Liquid detergents are popular. Practical handling thanks to single-dose liquid capsules offers particular advantages for consumers – and also for the environment. The downside here: children can easily mistake the colourful little capsules for sweets. And older people are thought to be equally at risk because they often mistake the capsules for their drugs. In order to prevent poisoning and eye injuries caused by contact with cleaning substances, the European Union has adopted stricter regulations governing the packaging of liquid laundry detergents from January 2016.
In the wake of these new provisions manufacturers have to comply with the following mandatory requirements:
No transparent or colourful packaging; instead subdued, dark secondary packaging
Clearly visible imprint of the note: “Keep out of the reach of children“
Must produce within seconds a taste so unpleasant that the capsule is immediately spat out again
May only dissolve in warm water after at least half a minute
In charge of controlling compliance with this regulation is the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
The packaging industry has already offered promising solutions for quite some time now. Even before the new EU regulation was adopted, the companies in this industry cooperated with the leading authorities and producers in many ways to come up with safe designs for laundry detergent packaging. Pursuant to the new regulation children may no longer be able to see through the packaging of liquid detergent packaging units, symbols that are understandable for children must be attached to the packaging in a clearly legible manner and the capsules proper should be produced in moderate, less striking colours while their contents must be made inedible with bitter aromas. On top of this, thicker films are to make it harder to open the capsule with your teeth.
A.I.S.E., the organisation representing the soaps, detergents and maintenance products industry, is raising awareness about the safe use of liquid detergent capsules in a Europe-wide initiative entitled “Keep Caps from Kids”. Principal sponsors of this initiative include the companies “Henkel”, “McBride” and “P&G” alongside other sponsors such as “Unilever” and “MonoSol”
After evaluating a study from 2015, ECHA currently expects the number of cases of illness notified in this connection to decrease by some 75% by 2020.