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Newsletter 2019



  1. Edito : Belgian agreement on microplastics
  2. Expansion through sustainable development. Hot air?
  3. Cosmetics: What can you claim on the label
  4. The DETIC Institute tells you what you need to know
  5. Adhesives and mastics: invisible but still present everywhere
  6. We all clean daily
  7. Circular packaging: the detergents sector goes full steam ahead!



Belgian agreement on microplastics

Sectoral agreement – the best solution?

On closer inspection, a law is not really a regulatory instrument that empowers people. A law is imposed, must be complied with, and those who do not are penalised. And that is far removed from corporate social responsibility, which implies a voluntary commitment, not necessarily altruistic – we would not go that far – but consciously and steadfastly. Is there an alternative to the law? An alternative that does indeed “empower”? Yes indeed. The sectoral agreement.

Within the framework of the Product Standards Act, a sectoral agreement is a costly, empowering, flexible and evolutionary instrument particularly suited to complex and changing situations. Where a law, rigid as it is, directs and penalises, the sectoral agreement opens up horizons and takes the stakeholders into a certain dynamic by offering them socially conscious provisions and common objectives, which are justified because they have been negotiated with full knowledge of the facts. The government becomes a fully-fledged partner, a coach who contributes to the effort, a partner who takes up the challenge. This is a completely different vision of justification – a vision that opens up completely different perspectives!

In Belgium, the Product Standards Act highlights the approach by means of a sectoral agreement. When such an agreement is signed, the government may not issue (except at supranational level) any provisions on the issues it covers throughout its duration. The legislator has thus initiated a responsible approach, which is a good thing. DETIC welcomes this.

Due to its complexity, its constant evolution and the lack of available objective data, the problem of using microplastics in consumer products is a matter that deserves to be framed within a sectoral agreement. On the one hand, the industry is voluntaristic and already committed; on the other hand, the government needs a flexible regulatory instrument that can be adapted to a changing situation. All the ingredients are there to ‘formulate” a sectoral agreement that benefits both society and the environment! In the meantime, it is undesirable for all the European Union member states to draw up their own rules, all of them different, and all of them complex, for the Union’s internal market. In Belgium, a sectoral agreement opens the door to initiatives from the government and the sectors concerned, without undermining the European construction that has been so beleaguered in recent months. A sectoral agreement also includes firm commitments and the necessary monitoring and control. This is a real contract, legally binding on the parties. Conflicts that cannot be resolved amicably may end up in court. We would like to point out here the mandatory nature of this instrument which is sometimes wrongly referred to as “not mandatory”. The signatory parties are legally obliged to perform the contract.

So yes, the Belgian sectoral agreement on microplastics in consumer products is an excellent solution because it is in the interest of all those involved to find a concrete, workable solution that does not undermine the European market and makes all signatories permanently and contractually responsible. Then again, the Belgian agreement covers all products marketed by DETIC members. At the moment, only the plastic microbeads that are deliberately added to cosmetics are covered by a practical measure. However, the rolled-out agreement allows, on the one hand, the general evolution of the microplastics problem to be monitored and other arrangements to be made for other sectors, if required. Belgium is the only country to roll out such an agreement. In a society where participation, the creation of ‘shared value’, is paramount, we can safely call our government visionary when it comes to regulation!

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Expansion through sustainable development. Hot air?

In 1992, for the first time, DETIC made sustainable development part of its organisation. After a long transition period, it now puts sustainable development at the heart of its activities through its own ‘philosophy’, unanimously approved by the Board of Directors: DETIC shows its members the way through the new social model called sustainable development.

Perhaps you think these are just words? Not at all. Sustainable development is now fully embedded in the daily activities of DETIC and its sectors. There are plenty of sustainability initiatives and more are in the pipeline. From the Sustainable Cleaning Charter for the detergents sector, which has been constantly evolving since 2005, to the guidelines for the cosmetics sector, DETIC was and still is the driving force behind sustainable development. In this context, we should think about initiatives such as ‘Soleil Malin/Veilig in de Zon’ or ‘Goed gewassen/Vert et Propre’.  Such initiatives have created shared value according to the co-creation principle, rolled out during a period in which participatory co-creation was nothing more than a germinating concept. In the absence of false modesty, this is what we call a pre-active vision!

Some people will now tell us that DETIC’s sustainability reports have disappeared. Rightly so. For many years, DETIC published an electronic document (how else) with the results of all of its (many) sustainability initiatives. This has become a thing of the past because DETIC has now signed up to the essenscia sustainability report, which is more standardised – not that this is a disadvantage, on the contrary, it is a lot more visible. Others will argue that the ‘’ website died a quiet death. They can rest assured that the website will rise from its ashes.

At DETIC, sustainable development is synonymous with new projects. In 2019, an ambitious project is planned: the development of a new sustainable development portal for all DETIC sectors. This umbrella project covers all our sectors, but provides an individual presentation (per sector) of the sustainable initiatives according to an LCA methodology (circular economy). Thus, a new dynamic is in the offing! And when we talk about a new dynamic, we should certainly also talk about the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). A simpler way of expressing the objectives of sustainable development is by adding two other cornerstones to the classic ‘Ps’ (People, Planet, Prosperity), namely Peace and Partnership. DETIC has already reorganised its initiatives around the SDGs (without rainbow-washing and also without falling into the ‘global’ lie) and is asking its members to do the same. At the moment, only a few sustainability reports refer to SDGs.

While on the subject of SDGs, we would also like to recall the three training sessions organised by the DETIC Institute on Sustainable Development on another topical theme: the circular economy. In front of an enthusiastic audience, specialist speakers presented their expertise and experience. It is not every day that we can share the company of pioneers of sustainable innovation, green marketing, the circular economy or CSR.

DETIC wants to promote sustainable development and invest as much energy as possible in meeting the challenges involved. In the meantime, the association has also mastered the “good life goals”, both internally and externally, through the actions of its team.

Each SDG was fleshed out with 17 daily actions. Even though some (rare) good life goals must be carefully applied (debatable objectification), they still represent attitudes, actions, thoughts that everyone can internalise to contribute actively to this large-scale, global project: the transformation of humanity with the aim of making our planet good to live in, everywhere.

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Cosmetics: What can you claim on the label

You cannot put anything on the label; claims must be scientifically substantiated

Gluten-free biscuits, lactose-free yoghurt, eggless mayonnaise, and so on … a growing number of such products are now available in stores with more and more consumers looking for them. This is not only because these consumers suffer from allergies but also because they prefer a vegan lifestyle or they consider the products better for their health.

These claims of ‘free from’ have also spread to cosmetics, where cosmetic companies play with them, sometimes going to extremes. There are various slogans on packaging now, such as ‘free from parabens’, ‘free from perfume’, even ‘free from chemicals’, which must ring alarm bells among the average, well-informed consumer as to what extent all this is true or justified.

There is no doubt about it: every claim made about cosmetics must be proven. This is laid down in the cosmetics legislation. How can a cosmetic product be free of chemicals? A cosmetic comprises a mixture of chemical substances which means it is a chemical product. Therefore, it is impossible to claim that a particular cosmetic product is made without chemicals.


No problems with parabens

Perfume-free products can still be justified by the fact that some people have sensitive skin and prefer perfume-free products. So, what are paraben-free products? Parabens act as a preservative and are subject to the strict European Union legislation, which is one of the strictest in the world. Thus, parabens are legally defined as safe for the consumer and should not be discriminated against by labelling products as ‘free from parabens’ in order to create the illusion that parabens are to be avoided. This is not the case. The parabens in cosmetics are safe for the consumer and the substances in cosmetics are therefore strictly checked by the Belgian FPS Public Health.

To bring some order to the maze of claims, the European Union has published a technical document with a guideline on ‘free from’ claims. For example, the slogan ‘free from parabens’ on cosmetic product labels will be banned in the future. Which is a good thing, because this claim actually discriminates against products that do contain parabens, because it makes consumers suspect that you have to avoid parabens and thus puts them on the wrong track.

So, why not put positive messages on cosmetics rather than negative ones? Psychologically, negative messages may attract more attention, just like fake news, but is this really ethical?

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The DETIC Institute tells you what you need to know

The Institute, DETIC’s training centre, regularly organises information sessions on various topics that help companies market their products. To this end, the DETIC Institute regularly calls on interesting and highly influential speakers, such as the competent authorities at home and abroad and at European level.

For example, recent training courses have focused, among other things, on the legislation on biocides in Belgium, Luxembourg and at the European level. Here, the Institute tries to clarify this complex matter from all sides. Of course, there is also time during these training courses to ask questions or to discuss cases further during the networking drinks at the end of each session.

The circular economy was the background for a series of three information sessions that took companies into the deep waters of sustainability, the different labels relating to it, the life-cycle analysis, and how to position a product as being sustainable.

From time to time, the DETIC Institute plans an information session on marketing a cosmetic product. Since marketing involves a lot of work, it is very interesting for new companies or entrepreneurs thinking about launching a cosmetics brand to find out what rules apply to it.

The agenda for the next information sessions can be found at 

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Adhesives and mastics: invisible but still present everywhere

Adhesives and mastics are everywhere although you do not see them. They glue our society together, so to speak – without adhesives and mastics our world would literally fall apart! They make sure we have a roof over our heads and walls around us. They package our food, bind the pages of our books together and allow our children to tinker during play to their hearts’ content. FEICA, the European association for adhesives and mastics, has put all these examples into an interesting video that outlines the importance of adhesives and mastics in our society.

Sticking is sustainable

These products contribute to a sustainable society. Adhesives are used to repair things and reuse them rather than throwing them away. Sustainable building employs mastics, which also help to insulate against weather, wind and noise.

Thus, a world without adhesives and mastics would be unthinkable. Without adhesives we cannot label our products and without mastics we cannot put tiles or windows in our homes. Moreover, adhesives and mastics literally keep our everyday objects together and in one piece – without them, little can survive. Therefore, they are essential and crucial to our daily operations and our general well-being.

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We all clean daily

But what does clean actually mean? According to cleaning terminology, ‘clean is the situation obtained after dirt and other disruptive elements are removed’.

Every day, millions of people use cleaning products to freshen and clean their homes. Outside, they are used to clean public areas. For the general well-being and good hygiene of the home environment and public areas, detergents are a must.

Cleaning is not only valuable for feeling better about your home, but also for staying healthy. Dirt is the source of nutrition for all kinds of microbes. Hygiene is just as necessary for good health as eating well. Because dirt is a food source for bacteria, mites and fungi, we achieve good hygiene by cleaning in such a way that we keep the number of harmful microorganisms at an acceptable level.

Healthy use of soap

Many diseases, such as the flu virus, are spread by our hands. For example, you may come into contact with raw meat during cooking, or you may shake the hand of someone with a cold, or touch door handles on public buildings. By regularly washing our hands with soap, we can remove these bacteria in such a way that we dramatically reduce the risk of disease.

If you work as a carer or a member of a medical team, or come into contact with people in this way, you can find out how best to wash your hands on this website:

The household of the future

We spend about 12.5 hours a week cleaning our living environment, which is half the time we spent 30 years ago. Our way of cleaning is evolving in line with our habits and needs.

In the future, our households will be organised virtually. Cleaning and household planning, distribution tasks, appointments and reminders will mainly be organised via apps which will delegate them to domestic robots or meat and blood cleaners. Through digital planning and home automation, a smart household will soon save us a lot of time which we can invest in other things, such as inviting family and friends to a clean and tidy house.

A clean and tidy house is also closely linked to the trend for “hygge”, which means turning your house into a cosy and atmospheric place to unwind. The interior and comfort of your home and household are becoming ever more important, with cleanliness and hygiene also playing a major role. If your house is clean and tidy it will be a lot less stressful – a comfortable and relaxing environment for family and friends to enjoy.

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Circular packaging: the detergents sector goes full steam ahead!

A.I.S.E. has just opened a Voluntary Industry Initiative on Plastic Packaging for signature.
This initiative aims to improve the design of plastic packaging for household products when this type of packaging is necessary to prevent the product from leaking, ensure that it can be used safely, protect the products during transport and enable correct dosing.
Companies that sign the initiative undertake to use on average at least 20% volume of recycled plastic in their plastic packaging (household products) and to ensure that all their plastic packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable. It should be pointed out that the 20% target is a minimum and that a considerable number of companies will be able to do better if sufficient raw materials are available. Moreover, this is an average which does not concern just ‘one’ product or ‘one’ range, but all the household products placed on the market.
Furthermore, this initiative is applicable to companies that have also signed the A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning. In fact, it comes in addition to the ASPs for household products that currently only comprise requirements in terms of recycling, reuse and compostability. This initiative is open to all companies in the sector, including those which are not A.I.S.E. members. All the information required, as well as the commitment letter, are available on the A.I.S.E. website:
This project provides an umbrella framework to enhance the value of the individual contributions made by all the participating companies by increasing their use of recycled plastic in packaging for household cleaning and maintenance products. It is fully in line with the EU strategy for plastics within the context of the circular economy. This is an important step that comes just at the right time in Belgium, given the ‘circular economy’ agenda implemented by the Belgian authorities.


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