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What you can learn from a Life Cycle Analysis

Comparing certain values helps you to expose greenwashing. We explain how our life cycle assessment was created.

You may have noticed that many brands have started printing green leaves on their packaging. This way, they pretend to change something about their products for the sake of the environment. But beware of greenwashing!

Since eco elio's beginnings, sustainability has been one of our central concerns. It was important to us to measure the actual environmental impact of our products in order to prove that we really are better than the competition. That's why we conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA).

An LCA is based on internationally recognized standards and is widely accepted as the best approach to quantify the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. The analysis is based on an ISO standard, which is quite strictly regulated and ensures comparability.

To make things even more complicated: The results of an LCA are given across many many impact categories. These are individual areas, summarized as environmental criteria, on which a product has an impact - greenhouse gas emissions, acidification of water bodies, depletion of the ozone layer, reduction of resources and many more.

What is still important in this context: Our life cycle assessment refers only to the Daily Dose Kit (DDK) concept. The eco elio tube is fully recyclable and was therefore excluded from the life cycle analysis.

What is the result of the LCA?

65% reduced plastic consumption

The Daily Dose Kit (DDK) uses about two-thirds less plastic than comparable sunscreen packaging (a 200ml bottle and a pump spray). We were surprised by this figure. Although we expected an improvement - it is really significant. So if you use our concept over several years, you reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by about 65%. That's great!

45% reduction in Global Warming Potential

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a combined measure of the impact of different gases on global warming - this is summarized in one number to allow for comparability. And in the scenario of a 4-person household, eco elio has a 45% improvement over comparable products. So by using DDK, the amount of greenhouse gases is reduced by almost 50%. Not bad either, right?

So you can see the eco elio packaging system is far superior to conventional packaging solutions. eco elio is not only pure protection for your skin but also much better for our planet. This is how we can achieve our goal of more people protecting themselves from UV radiation without being a burden on the planet.

Performing a life cycle analysis: how do you go about it?

First things first: Since this study was new to us, we started looking for an expert to work with. In Dr.-Ing. Britta Schwartze, we found an expert who is particularly knowledgeable in the field and who brought a lot of patience with her.

Next, we evaluated all of our company's outputs - from the materials that go into our product in various forms to the energy required to make our product.

Then came the hardest part: getting the data. Suppliers often don't have data available, so there were a lot of conversations, data requests and research aimed at better understanding their processes. We looked for information on the source of electricity used in productions, waste generated, disposal practices, raw material procurement, shipping methods and distances between individual production sites. That alone was a long process.

There are always things that can't be known and that suppliers don't know (or don't want to know). Thus, we started to formulate assumptions and search for reliable databases with meaningful information to fill the gaps in the data model.

The next step was to compare our Daily Dose Kit (DDK) to commercially available packaging solutions and develop benchmarks to measure how much better (or worse) the DDK performs compared to similar products.

Finally, with a lot of exchange and discussion, we tried to make our assumptions more precise. And that starts with the basic questions: How much sunscreen do people actually use? Because the amount of sunscreen people buy and the amount of plastic they throw away depends on this. In our scenario, consumers use the amount of sunscreen recommended by the German Dermatological Society. We also took into account how many sunny days there are, what clothes people usually wear depending on the weather, and how many days a year they spend at the beach.

In the context of an LCA, the properties and longevity of the products are also taken into account: How long does our pump dispenser last? How much water is used when washing our Let's Go Bottle? And what is the impact of using warm water to rinse the Let's Go Bottle before putting it in the dishwasher?

Last but not least: All the mentioned aspects are part of a database, which were inserted into a LCA software by our expert Britta. And with one click it was there: the comparative LCA of the DDK.

So what are our conclusions?

  • The DDK is a marked improvement over other sunscreens. Plastic consumption and global warming potential show significantly better values in our footprint. That pretty much sums it up.
  • A life cycle analysis provides transparency in a sea of greenwashing. An LCA is a robust, transparent and standardized approach to understanding the true impact of a product. Its results provide a trusted comparison and benchmark for consumers to use as a guide.
  • We need more LCAs They are becoming more commonplace, and the more frequently brands and companies ask for the data from their suppliers, the more likely suppliers will begin to collect the data, evaluate it, and make decisions with the environment in mind.
  • You - as a consumer - can demand LCAs. Many brands will only reduce their environmental footprint if it is a concern of their customers. So go ahead and ask: Whether on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or another channel: Is there an LCA for their products?

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