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Shell Naturelle – Frequently Asked Questions

What does the EU Ecolabel for lubricants mean?

The EU Ecolabel for lubricants shows products have been certified as demonstrating ‘reduced environmental impact during their entire life cycle”. This award is made after an assessment of the complete formulation by an independent, national authority. There are strict criteria for biodegradability, aquatic toxicity, renewable raw materials used and restriction on the use of harmful or hazardous materials (referred to as ‘H-phrases’). Hydraulic fluids must also meet the minimum technical performance levels laid down in ISO 15380.

What does ‘environmentally acceptable’ mean?

We use this term for all products in the Naturelle range. It means they have a high biodegradability, do not accumulate in the environment and have a low toxicity towards plants and animals (referred to as ‘low ecotoxicity’). These claims are based on confirmed test results from independent laboratories which operate to internationally recognized quality standards (e.g. ISO 17025).

What is the difference between a ‘biodegradable’ and an ‘environmentally acceptable’ lubricants?

In addition to being highly biodegradable, an ‘environmentally acceptable’ hydraulic fluid will also have low toxicity towards plants and animals in the environment and will not bioaccumulate – all while still being capable of meeting minimum requirements for technical performance.

How do you measure biodegradability?

There are a number of internationally recognized test methods. Shell uses the ‘Carbon Dioxide Evolution Test’ (OECD Test Guideline 301 B), which is recognised by EU Ecolabel and other bodies.

What is the pass level for ‘readily biodegradable’?

In the ‘Carbon Dioxide Evolution Test’ (OECD 301 B), ‘readily biodegradable’ is defined as greater than 60 per cent biodegradation after 28 days.

What do you mean by ‘low ecotoxicity’?

The toxicity of a material towards the environment is called its ‘ecotoxicity’. This is usually assessed using short-term (referred to as ‘acute’) tests on plants and animals which are representative of different levels within the food chain. All Shell Naturelle products are assessed to ensure they deliver low toxicity in an aquatic environment.

You say your Shell Naturelle contains a high level of ‘renewable raw material’ - what does this mean?

The synthetic esters used as the base fluids for all Naturelle products are manufactured using renewable raw materials such as fatty acids derived from vegetable oils. We have had these ‘biobased’ contents of all our lubricants measured by an independent laboratory according to ASTM D 6866. In addition to the renewable content, Shell is committed to ethical sourcing and uses RSPO certified sourced materials1. Read more about our sourcing strategy here2.

How does an ‘environmentally acceptable’ lubricants like Shell Naturelle differ from a mineral oil hydraulic fluid such as Shell Tellus?

The main difference is in the composition. Shell Naturelle is blended from biodegradable synthetic esters and ashless additives which have a proven low ecotoxicity. However, both products are designed to give excellent performance in hydraulic applications.

Do ‘environmentally acceptable’ lubricants have problems with technical performance and shorter service lives?

No, they do not. This perception is a little outdated as it is based on the first ever generation of vegetable oil-based products which did have poorer oxidation stability. Shell Naturelle is a range of next generation lubricants formulated with fully synthetic esters - which are a lot more stable to oxidation and high operating temperatures.
 

1 Tested in accordance with ASTM 6866 and RSPO certified sourced materials

2 https://www.shell.com/sustainability/our-approach/commitments-policies-and-standards.html

  

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