Liquid detergent capsules help consumers use just the right amount of detergent for their washing needs. They are used daily by millions of consumers. Whilst they are safe when used and stored as instructed on the product package, it is important to store them in a safe place before and after use, and always keep them out of reach of children. The companies placing liquid detergent capsules on the market take the safety of consumers very seriously. Following reports on incidents of accidental exposure with these products in particular in young children, the detergents industry has taken a number of actions.
Key activities of the detergent industry
As early as at the end of 2012, the detergents industry has introduced the voluntary A.I.S.E. Product Stewardship Programme for liquid laundry detergent capsules. The Programme has already led to the voluntary commitment of companies to undertake packaging modification by moving from transparent to opaque or obscure packaging and reinforced closures to limit access of children; prominent extra labelling on the outer package and consumer education to point consumers to the need for safe storage and handling of the products and the need to always keep them away from children.
On 1 March 2015 the detergent industry has launched a new A.I.S.E. Product Stewardship Programme to cover all liquid detergent capsules. This new programme is taking over from the Product Stewardship Programme for liquid laundry detergent capsules as from 1 March 2015. The packaging requirements will be maintained while the capsules will be subject to mechanical compression strength levels in order to address the issue of resistance to children grip. Prominent extra labelling on the outer package and consumer education remain addressed. The programme is now closed for signature and companies can no longer sign up (see new programme below)
In June 2017, A.I.S.E. launched a third Liquid Detergent Capsules Product Stewardship Programme”. This programme builds on the two previous programmes and introduces new voluntary commitments on superior child impeding closures, an advertising code of conduct and continued consumer education. These measures intend to drive safer use habits of detergent products and liquid laundry detergent capsules, in particular and to further improve the safety of this product category.
The education initiative "Keep Caps from Kids” (see below) now complements the already existing measures. Furthermore, in conjunction with several national poison control centres, an accidentology programme has been set up to prospectively monitor accidents circumstances and to confirm that the most appropriate measures are taken to address the safety concern. The detergents industry is working in close collaboration with authorities to ensure that safeguards are put in place.
Amendment to the CLP Regulation on liquid consumer laundry detergent capsules
On 5 December 2014, European regulators have adopted an amendment to the CLP Regulation (Regulation (EU) N° 1297/2014, the "Soluble Packaging Regulation") building on the key activities of the detergents industry, and the voluntary A.I.S.E. Product Stewardship Programme for liquid detergent capsules.
The products will have to be delivered in opaque or obscure outer packaging, always bear the precautionary statement "Keep out of reach of children” and have closures that are difficult for small children to open. All the soluble packaging of the capsules will also have to meet a given resistance strength to retain their liquid content for at least 30 seconds when immersed in water, and to contain a safe aversive agent that causes a fast repulsive reaction in case of accidental contact with the mouth.
A.I.S.E. has developed guidelines on the implementation of the ‘Soluble Packaging Regulation’. The guidelines provide practical tools and advice on mandatory measures concerning the outer packaging and the ‘soluble packaging’ (i.e. the capsule itself). Besides clarifying the scope and reminding definitions, A.I.S.E.’s guidelines include:
- Advice concerning the reduced visibility of the capsules through the ‘outer packaging’;
- Advice concerning P102 on-pack labelling (safe use instructions);
- General considerations related to ‘child-impeding closures’;
- A protocol for measuring oral rejection time and thereby determine effective levels of aversive agent in the soluble film;
- A test protocol for measuring the liquid containment function of soluble packaging;
- A dynamometric test protocol for measuring the mechanical integrity of the soluble packaging.
Keep Caps from Kids
In September 2014, the detergents industry launched a pan-EU digital consumer education campaign entitled "Keep Caps from Kids”. Through visualising how kids explore the world, the educational and positive tone of the campaign was a clear call for action to parents and people looking after young children to always keep these products away from children. In September 2017, a new edition of the campaign was launched, featuring concrete advice on how to prevent kids from being hurt and how to use capsules safely and store them out of the reach of children through the multi-lingual web portal www.keepcapsfromkids.eu
The campaign, led by the detergents industry in Europe, is addressed to parents and people looking after young children, with the aim to further increase consumer awareness on the need for safe use habits to avoid incidents of accidental exposures with these products, especially at home. The campaign encourages related industries (e.g. retailers) and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. consumer NGOs, ministries of health, poison control centres, associations of paediatricians) wishing to leverage the safety message to join the campaign as partners. Consumers and web users are warmly welcome to help spread the word and make the campaign viral on the web! For more information on the campaign click here.