The A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning

Frequently asked questions

Structure

General framework and Objectives
Target companies
Advantages
Quality Assurance
Costs


General framework and Objectives

1. Why did A.I.S.E. develop the Charter?
2. Why did A.I.S.E. update the Charter? 
3. Did A.I.S.E. consult any stakeholders prior to launching this initiative and what did they tell? 
4. What has been achieved with the Charter since its launch? What if only a minority of companies migrate to the Charter update 2010? 
5. What concrete and tangible activities is A.I.S.E. going to provide with the Charter?
6. Where is risk management of chemicals integrated in the Charter?
7. How does the Charter relate to REACH?
8. How long does the Licence last? How to migrate from Charter version 2005 to the Charter update 2010?
9. Can a manufacturer sub-licence the Charter symbol to a distributor? 
10. Why is the Charter restricted to Europe and not setting more global goals? What about sustainability activities with other parts of the world?
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Target companies 

11. How will A.I.S.E. ensure that potential new companies can join the Charter and how will this be reflected in the aggregated data and in the annual sustainability report? 
12. Can a distributor apply the Charter logo to products having not been manufactured by a company member of the Charter (even if it is the same brand)? 
13. Can a manufacturer apply on behalf of a distributor? 
14. How do retailers and other distributors participate? 
15. Whom exactly does A.I.S.E. want to address with the Charter?  
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Advantages

16. Why should companies commit themselves to the Charter? 
17. What is the added value in comparison to for example ISO or EMAS certification?
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Quality Assurance

18. How credible is the control system on the implementation of the CSPs by each participating company? 
19. On the KPIs, is A.I.S.E. sure to be able to demonstrate progress?
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Costs

20. What costs will this all have for companies? Is A.I.S.E. sure that SMEs will be interested and can afford to participate?
21. Are there any costs involved in the grant of the Licence?
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General framework and Objectives

1. Why did A.I.S.E. develop the Charter?
A.I.S.E. has a long tradition of addressing proactively the sustainability agenda, with various initiatives such as the Code of Good Environmental Practice, the HERA project etc.  The A.I.S.E. Charter has been developed to build on previous voluntary initiatives and aims at constantly offering the most advanced sustainability assurance scheme for promoting best practices within the industry across the entire A.I.S.E. region.
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2. Why did A.I.S.E. update the Charter?
From the outset, the Charter has been seen as a long term, living scheme, which will continue to evolve over time, to steer better sustainability practice for the whole sector. Regular upgrades of the Charter ensure that it continues to offer the most advanced sustainability assurance scheme for promoting best practice within the industry, using LCA and science as a basis.
The Charter update 2010, the first major upgrade, introduces a product dimension, enabling companies to give a sustainability assurance for individual products, with an enhanced Charter logo. These can be obtained by companies committed to the Charter update 2010 through voluntary compliance with the new Advanced Sustainability Profiles (ASPs) for product categories.
It also establishes equivalences between the Charter Sustainability Procedures and ISO and certain other manufacturing standards in order to avoid duplication between the Charter verification process and regular company audits.
Companies committed to the current scheme can choose to migrate to the Charter update 2010 or stay with the Charter version 2005. A.I.S.E encourages all companies to migrate to the Charter update 2010 in order to promote rapid awareness and understanding of the upgraded system.
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3. Did A.I.S.E. consult any stakeholders prior to launching this initiative and what did they tell?

A.I.S.E. has consulted the European Commission (DG Enterprise, DG Health & Consumer Protection, DG Environment), individual Members of the European Parliament, UNEP and a number of NGOs and independent sustainability consultants. They have all been very receptive about our approach, especially as to the involvement of external verifiers.
With the publication of the A.I.S.E. Annual Sustainability Report, and the upgrade of the scheme, A.I.S.E. has excellent opportunities to continue this dialogue with stakeholders. Suggestions have been received and have already been addressed with the first major upgrade of the Charter. A.I.S.E. will continue to secure close dialogue with all interested parties on this ambitious schemes, its performance and delivery.
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4. What has been achieved with the Charter since its launch? What if only a minority of companies migrate to the Charter update 2010?
By July 2010, more than 110 companies had joined the Charter, representing more than 80% of the total production output for Europe. Besides, verified returns from companies demonstrate how the voluntary commitment of Charter members to continual improvement has yielded positive results, such as: 
- Energy consumed per tonne of production  -5.5% 

- CO2 emitted per tonne of production  -8.9% 

- Packaging per tonne of production  -1.5%

The Charter - including its 2010 upgrade - is an ambitious project which took a few years to develop. A.I.S.E. wants to be sure that it is a relevant project, matching the expectations of stakeholders as well as those of its own members.

A.I.S.E. is convinced that the vast majority of the detergent industry will continue to be in a position to further implement the principle of sustainability in all their operations and migrate to the Charter update 2010, and that more companies will continue to join.
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5. What concrete and tangible activities is A.I.S.E. going to provide with the Charter?
A.I.S.E. has invested heavily in developing the Charter, including training programs and communication. The Charter has been/is being promoted through National Associations to companies, at workshops and in training seminars. These events offer a good insight and guide the companies, be it manufacturers of household products, products for I&I use or SMEs, on implementation.
A.I.S.E. also promotes the use of the best / safe use pictograms and sentences, an important industry's activity.  In 2006 A.I.S.E. has started an ongoing broader consumer campaign to inform the consumer on the changes in the labelling of products, with the introduction of the Charter logo and the best/safe use pictograms. With the launch of the reviewed Charter, on and offline communication to consumers will continue, e.g. via www.cleanright.eu, a multilingual website that offers a wide range of impartial information to help you get the best results from your cleaning products in a safe and environmentally responsible way. 
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6. Where is risk management of chemicals integrated in the Charter?
Risk management decisions are a direct consequence of risk assessment. Risks for consumers can arise if the product is misused or not used correctly. To manage risks A.I.S.E. is actively providing sensible advice to consumers on how to use products safely through the use of pictograms and text. A.I.S.E. actively promotes the sensible advice messages and pictograms in consumer campaigns and endorses them in information campaigns run by authorities and consumer organisations. Risk management in professional use is part of downstream legislation such as occupational health & safety regulations (e.g. 98/24/EC).
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7. How does the Charter relate to REACH?
A.I.S.E. and other downstream-users of chemicals are very committed to work constructively with all interested bodies to make REACH a successful, workable system. A.I.S.E. has addressed chemicals safety in the Charter, building on the learnings from the HERA program and it is also actively involved in the "RIP", "SPORT" and other REACH working groups and schemes. Given that the REACH outcomes are not available yet, an "Environmental Safety Check" (ESC) of ingredients has been introduced for specific product categories with the reviewed Charter. In order to qualify for the benefit of the Charter update 2010 ASP logo a product will have to successfully pass the ESC test (in the launch phase available for laundry detergent products and fabric conditioners). Here it is demonstrated that all the ingredients in the product formulation are shown to give environmental concentrations at or below the predicted no-effect level for aquatic toxicity.
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8. How long does the Licence last? How to migrate from Charter version 2005 to the Charter update 2010?
The Company will commit for an indefinite period of time through a Commitment Letter and a License Agreement, provided that the Company fulfills all obligations of the Charter. However, like for any contract a mechanism has been designed to allow the Company of A.I.S.E. to terminate commitment. In a nutshell, the Company can withdraw its commitment upon a prior written notice of 6 months. A.I.S.E. can decide to terminate the Company's participation to the Charter if 1) the Company has not remedied a breach in the fulfillment of its Charter obligations or 2) in the case that the Charter would cease to exist or would be replaced.
Migration from the Charter version 2005 to the Charter update 2010 is fully encouraged by A.I.S.E. A whole section is devoted on this site to companies in this particular case; please consult this link to access the relevant documentation.
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9. Can a manufacturer sub-licence the Charter symbol to a distributor?
No. There must be a direct contractual relationship between A.I.S.E. and the distributor.
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10. Why is the Charter restricted to Europe and not setting more global goals? What about sustainability activities with other parts of the world?
It is clear that the scope of the Charter, as currently defined, applies only to companies operating in the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The Charter is also open for imported products manufactured outside Europe under the condition that the responsible companies fulfill all Charter obligations. Of course the companies are more than welcome to extend the application of the management systems and other Charter related activities to other parts of their business operations, outside the Charter area. However, this is beyond the responsibility and control of A.I.S.E. Great interest from A.I.S.E.'s sister organizations in other parts of the world has been gained and A.I.S.E. will continue to share its experience on this initiative with interested bodies.
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Target companies

11. How will A.I.S.E. ensure that potential new companies can join the Charter and how will this be reflected in the aggregated data and in the annual sustainability report?
The Charter remains an open and 'living' scheme; it also remains a project that evolves with time, according to the level of implementation by the companies and the feedback received from stakeholders.
The KPI's have been defined in such a way, by using unit based ratios (e.g. tonnages produced, number of products put on the market, etc.) that performance data of individual companies can be easily compared and calculated into a set of aggregated industry data and thus published in an overall industry sustainability report.
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12. Can a distributor apply the Charter logo to products having not been manufactured by a company member of the Charter (even if it is the same brand)?
No.
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13. Can a manufacturer apply on behalf of a distributor?
No. The distributor must apply directly to A.I.S.E. A manufacturer may assist the distributor by obtaining the documents on its behalf, but the documents must be signed by the distributors and returned direct to A.I.S.E.
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14. How do retailers and other distributors participate?
Distributors (retailers, importers, other distributors, etc.) can apply via the Charter website and participate in the Charter via a special associate membership agreement with A.I.S.E. If their supplier(s) have been admitted to the Charter and the distributor has committed to provide the relevant CSP and KPI data to their supplier and has signed the licence agreement with A.I.S.E. they will be authorised by A.I.S.E. to use the Charter logo, also on the packs of their private label products.  
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15. Whom exactly does A.I.S.E. want to address with the Charter?
A.I.S.E.'s aim is to indicate to consumers and customers that they can have confidence in the products which carry the Charter  logos as they are produced by a company which can demonstrate that it takes sustainability into account at all stages of the product life cycle.
The Charter also has an immediate impact on the detergent, cleaning and maintenance products industry, its employees and shareholders as well as other industry partners (raw material suppliers, retailers, etc.). Companies participating in the Charter are obliged to systematically implement the Charter sustainability principles in their operations.

The Charter is also addressing stakeholders with whom A.I.S.E. and its national member associations have regular contacts (European and national authorities, consumer groups, NGOs, etc.). Apart from specific Charter initiatives (e.g. the promotion of best / safe use messages to consumers and users of our products) A.I.S.E. has established a permanent dialogue by presenting the aggregated industry results to them through the publication of the annual A.I.S.E. Sustainability Report. This offers both sides a unique opportunity to exchange new ideas and suggestions for improvement of the Charter.
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Advantages

16. Why should companies commit themselves to the Charter?
The process of implementing the CSPs and measuring and reporting the KPIs helps to drive continuous improvement in sustainable production and consumption. Improvements can occur at all stages of the product life-cycle, from product specification, through manufacturing, to end-use and disposal. For example, safety improvements can come from selection of properly risk-assessed raw materials, adopting best practice in manufacturing systems, and increasing the use of on-pack guidance for consumers. Environmental improvements can include reducing use of resources, creating less waste, and emitting less carbon dioxide.
A.I.S.E. reports on the aggregated performance of the industry on an annual basis; thus, companies are able to benchmark themselves against the rest of the industry.   
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17. What is the added value in comparison to for example ISO or EMAS certification?
These schemes address the idea of continuous improvement in the environment (EMAS), or quality and environment (ISO) and the application of management systems and have been used as a reference in order to tailor the Charter specifically to the soaps, detergent and maintenance products sector. The Charter has been designed to integrate health, safety and environment across the whole life cycle of the product and have the management systems verified independently.
With the Charter update 2010,  where companies are already certified annually under ISO 9001, BS OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 / EMAS, a system of equivalences is being introduced whereby Charter CSPs which are essentially the same as the relevant elements of those standards can be regarded as having been already verified. The aim is to avoid duplication of company resource spent on audits in so far as there are overlaps between those standards and the CSP requirements of the updated Charter.
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Quality Assurance

18. How credible is the control system on the implementation of the CSPs by each participating company?
A.I.S.E. has an independent control system, consisting of accepted verifiers who visit each participating company at the beginning - for the Charter Entrance Check - and subsequently every three years to check whether all CSPs are still in place. In addition, there are random checks whether the companies are correctly reporting on the KPIs. The verifiers are selected on a set of professional and fully transparent criteria and report on the individual company performances in a neutral way, through the protected Charter extranet reporting system, without any risk of internal and / or external influences.
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19. On the KPI's, is A.I.S.E. sure to be able to demonstrate progress?
The KPIs are chosen to demonstrate progress on all domains of sustainability (economic social and environmental) and are specific for the detergent, cleaning and maintenance products' industry. By aggregating the individual company results into an annual sustainability report for the whole industry A.I.S.E. is able to measure such progress. We are confident that participating companies, pay specific attention to these KPIs and by improving themselves on a continual basis help the industry to lower the overall (environmental) burden, resulting in a downward trend over time. So far, the voluntary commitment of Charter members to continual improvement has yielded positive results, such as 
- Energy consumed per tonne of production  -5.5% 
- CO2 emitted per tonne of production  -8.9% 
- Packaging per tonne of production  -1.5%.
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Costs

20. What costs will this all have for companies? Is A.I.S.E. sure that SMEs can afford to participate?
The implementation costs of the Charter have been kept to a minimum. There are no registration costs for companies which are members of an A.I.S.E. National Association and the participating companies do not have to pay for the use of the logo. The verification costs will be modest as it is feasible to carry out the verification checks as little as one day if the company is well prepared. There are some artwork costs related to the change of the labels on packs necessary for the printing of the best / safe use information and the Charter logo.
When correctly implemented the Charter should result into cost-efficiencies as companies will be able to better analyse and define elements for improvement. This should be very attractive to both large and small companies.
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21. Are there any costs involved in the grant of the Licence?
The Licence is granted free of charge to distributors and other companies but if the manufacturing company is not a member of a national A.I.S.E. member association the supplier has to pay an annual administration fee of 1500 Euros. The distributor does not have to be a member of A.I.S.E., or a National Association member of A.I.S.E. nor has to pay an annual administration fee.
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