Sun protection is essential. Whether enjoying the seaside or hiking in the mountains, people who love the great outdoors know how important sunscreen is. But there is also increasing consciousness of the importance of using products that do not harm the environment – a trend we welcome. With the EcoSun Pass, BASF’s Care Creations®️ supports sunscreen manufacturers in developing formulations that are good for people AND the environment.
The growing consumer awareness of environmental issues related to products like sunscreens would be wasted without some way of identifying the environmental impact of a given product. EcoSun Pass gives the answer. “The tool lets our customers assess ultraviolet filter systems according to the latest scientific findings. Internationally recognized criteria such as biodegradability and aquatic toxicity play a major role here,” explains Marcel Schnyder, Head of Global Technical Center Sun Care at BASF.
Sustainable sun-care made easy
Although research into the environmental impact of ultraviolet (UV) light filters and sunscreen products is progressing, reports of damage to the ecosystem, coral reefs and oceans are mounting. Manufacturers and consumers ask whether it is possible to formulate sustainable and environmentally compatible sun-protection solutions.
BASF has a clear and simple answer: with today’s knowledge and technology, sun-care products can be developed and formulated with minimal impact on the environment. The BASF EcoSun Pass label enables consumers to identify these products.
EcoSun Pass employs a methodology specially developed by BASF’s Care Creations®️ to test the environmental compatibility of UV filter systems in sun-protection products. UV filters are decisive factors in determining the extent to which a filter system is environmentally friendly. The EcoSun Pass results take into account the environmental impact of the filters, their concentration in the formulation and also the efficiency of the sunscreen product in terms of sun-protection factor (SPF) and UVA protection for the best possible environmental footprint.
The scientific results are not limited to the BASF product portfolio: the platform evaluates all widely used UV filters transparently.
Clear, transparent, comprehensive
But the UV filter is by no means the whole story. Understanding the environmental compatibility of a sunscreen product involves the entire system. Looking at the ingredients, it is relatively easy to identify many of the substances used as already tested for biodegradability according to OECD 301 criteria. However, to be recognized as a sustainable agent, more criteria than degradability are required.
As UV filters absorb in different wavelength ranges, sunscreen formulations typically contain multiple filters. It is not uncommon for a product to integrate up to six. One goal of the functions of EcoSun Pass is to help formulators make the optimum selection of UV absorbers – if the filters selected are more efficient, fewer are needed to achieve the same performance. In general, toxicity increases with the concentration of UV filters.
The EcoSun Pass evaluation method takes eight internationally recognized criteria into account: acute aquatic toxicity, chronic aquatic toxicity, LogPow (a logarithm that is part of the bioaccumulation assessment), bioaccumulation, biodegradation, endocrine disruption, terrestrial toxicity, sediment toxicity.
The criteria in detail
- Acute aquatic toxicity: damage to an aquatic organism due to short-term exposure to a substance.
- Chronic aquatic toxicity: damage to an aquatic organism due to long-term exposure to a substance.
- LogPow: a logarithm of the partitioning coefficient between a defined octanol-water mixture. Solvent toxicity correlates inversely with this value.
- Biodegradation: disintegration of materials by microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or other biological means.
- Bioaccumulation: accumulation of substances in an organism due to absorption at a rate faster than that at which the substance is lost by catabolism and excretion.
- Endocrine disruption: substance that has been shown to disrupt the hormone system of organisms. Such a substance cannot be seen as ecofriendly.
- Terrestrial toxicity: damaging effects of a substance on terrestrial flora and fauna.
- Sediment toxicity: damage caused by a substance on sediment-dwelling organisms.
The description of the EcoSun Pass methodology has been published under application number WO2019207129.
Once all criteria have been checked, BASF provides a reliable assessment. But another advantage for manufacturers is that our sun-care experts offer advice in the development phase. Which UV filter combination is best suited to the application in question? Which should be avoided? In this way, we can work together to create an environmentally compatible sunscreen effectively and efficiently from the word “go.”
Dedicated to consumers, today and tomorrow
In short, EcoSun Pass resolves the dilemma of the need for effective sun-care, on the one hand, and environmental protection, on the other. The tool evaluates, provides answers and paves the way for sunscreen products that are good for people AND nature. Above all, it opens the door for those players who want to take charge and address future-oriented challenges and customer wishes.
Our commitment to environmental compatibility in combination with solutions that master the challenges of changing consumer demands is part of our promise to the personal care industry and society. BASF is dedicated to working with you achieve the perfect balance.