News: Does product labelling improve environmental performance?
Environmental product labelling allows consumers to make sustainable purchasing decisions and gives companies clarity and confidence around the environmental impacts of the products they purchase; Olivia Bertham, UKED.
Wednesday, 20th April 2016
Challenges for eco labelling schemes
Broadly there are 3 challenges to delivering a robust environmental product labelling scheme:
- Objectives that drive up environmental standards
- Criteria that achieve the end objectives
- An auditing process that is independent and drives compliance.
Establishing challenging objectives
A key objective of the label was to promote products with the highest level of environmental excellence. By its very nature, not all products can achieve these environmnetal standards.
Setting high standards
EU Ecolabel criteria are based on current scientific research, developed by wide stakeholder engagement and subject to regular review. The criteria are open for all to view – see www.eu-ecolabel.uk. They cover sustainability of raw materials, biodegradability, toxicology, bioaccumulation of substances, energy and water efficiency, as well as fitness for use.
Auditing to drive compliance
The auditing process in all certification schemes is particularly challenging, and must, by way of practicality, be a risk-based process. The EU Ecolabel uses technical experts, who insist on robust evidence sources and inspect operations when needed.
The EU Ecolabel meets all 3 challenges. The Europe-wide scheme sets criteria for a wide range of products from detergents to lubricants, laptops to textiles. If a product complies with all the criteria and a licence is awarded, the EU Ecolabel flower logo can be used to communicate high environmental performance to consumers and businesses.
The next challenge for an environmental labelling scheme is to increase take up. If only a handle of products meet these high environmental standards, progress towards a more sustainable future will be slow and the market that allows people to make sustainable purchasing choices, will be severely limited.