Eco-labels and Green Stickers are labeling systems for food and consumer products. Ecolabels are voluntary, but green stickers are mandated by law; for example, in North America major appliances and automobiles use Energy Star. They are a form of sustainability measurement directed at consumers, intended to make it easy to take environmental concerns into account when shopping. Some labels quantify pollution or energy consumption by way of index scores or units of measurement, while others assert compliance with a set of practices or minimum requirements for sustainability or reduction of harm to the environment. Many ecolabels are focused on minimising the negative ecological impacts of primary production or resource extraction in a given sector or commodity through a set of good practices that are captured in a sustainability standard. Through a verification process, usually referred to as "certification", a farm, forest, fishery, or mine can show that it complies with a standard and earn the right to sell its products as certified through the supply chain, often resulting in a consumer-facing ecolabel.
The last few years have seen two key trends in the ecolabels space. There is an explosion in the numbers of different ecolabelling programs across the world and across business sectors and secondly the proliferation of umbrella labeling programs.
Ecolabelling systems exist for both food and consumer products. Both systems were started by NGOs, since then the European Union have developed legislation for conduct of ecolabelling and also have created their own ecolabels, one for food and one for consumer products. At least for food, the ecolabel is nearly identical with the common NGO definition of the rules for ecolabelling. Label trust is an issue for consumers because as manufacturers and manufacturing associations have set up "rubber stamp" labels to greenwash their products with fake ecolabels. High trust levels can be created when ecolabels apply for Governmental recognition as formal Certification Marks [recognized by logos or names with 'CTM', CM or 'CertTM']. Typically this means schemes approved as a Certification Mark, have had the Government Department responsible declare that the scheme has a standard and certifies that they are 'Competent to Certify'. The highest trust levels would be a government recognized certification mark that was also compliant with key ISO standards especially ISO 14024- Type 1 Ecolabels that undertake ISO 14040 compliant life cycle analysis as part of their assessment.Type I ecolabels are voluntary labels that signify overall environmental preference of a product or services based on life-cycle considerations that address multiple environmental criteria, which are based on transparent standards for environmental preferability, verified by a qualified organization.
- 1 ISO Participation
- 2 Ecolabeling innovation cycle
- 3 Environmental governance
- 4 History
- 5 International Networks
- 6 Programs by region
- 7 Seafood
- 8 Energy
- 9 See also
- 10 Green Label Links
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The last few years have seen two key trends in the ecolabels space. There is an explosion in the numbers of different ecolabelling programs across the world and across business sectors and secondly the proliferation of umbrella labeling programs. The International Organization for Standardization ISO has created standards for labeling practices within the ISO 14000 schema. ISO 14020 to 14025 series deals with environmental labels and declarations. ISO proposed three categories of environmental labels according to the aspects covered and the rigor required to award the seal: type I in ISO 14024; type II in ISO 14021; and type III in ISO 14025. Additionally, a different category called “Type I – like” is present in the literature, which represents environmental labels focused on just one environmental or social aspect; these labels have been launched by independent organizations.
Ecolabeling innovation cycle
There is a close relationship between the ecolabeling process and the eco-innovation because it promotes the emergence of new green products and it improves the organizations environmental management strategy. Moreover, ecolabeling process is a "cyclical eco-innovation process in which consumers, firms, governments and institutions interact. Its final purpose is to contribute to the development of sustainable and ecological ways of production and consumption. In this process, consumers’ environmental expectations are met; firms increase their created and captured value and enhance their sustainability, and governments and institutions foster cleaner production and consumption. Finally, this process is tangible in the products through the awarding of ecolabels, which are visibly displayed on goods and services".
Consumer desires for sustainable consumption is driving the global marketplace with desire to regulate product production. The globalization of economies is shifting control of sustainability away from traditional command and control measures imposed by governments towards market governance which is a self-regulatory new environmental policy instrument, ecolabelling.
The only ecolabel that takes into consideration legal and infrastructural limitations is  which is a startup in Greece approved by the University of Wales and which has the Support of the Dutch Embassy and the Orange Grove. It is a certification programme with the intention to increase owner, staff, suppliers and stakeholder’s awareness with the intention to motivate them for an eco-friendly action towards a sustainable holiday and future for all of us in the long run and through which expenses can be minimized.
Eco-labeling standardization is a new form of regulation which is voluntary in nature but impose upon large companies market forces in order to harmonize production of goods and services with stronger ecological practices. Recently, it has turned into a new form of non-state authority at both national and international levels. This idea of entrepreneurial democracy based on the success of the ISO 14000 standards on the management of environmental quality and the ISO 9000 standards on quality production control. Once an industry sector decides to get this certification, it has to provide evidence of documented proof of compliance required. In terms of ISO 14042 standard, it is obligatorily for all applicants to respect environmental legislation and related legislation; breaching of any laws may result in licensing suspension.
During the UN Earth Summit Conference in 1992, an international consensus was generated to integrate environmental issues into manufacturing procedures. The idea was to manipulate consumption patterns in order to achieve sustainable development. The result of this is as follows.
Currently in the developed world: Eco-labels and green stickers have evolved to play a vital role. They provide a verifiable link between products and informed consumer wishes. This approach applies market pressure on industries to minimize their environmental impact; this is evidenced by the growth in the population of informed consumers. Marketing strategists are responding with Green Certifications and its abuse, Greenwashing.
Currently in the developing world: First consumers became concerned about the quality, safety and environmental sustainability of food and supported demand for green foods, then focused on the environmental effects of agriculture and globalization of food production, which led to the exposure of globally controlled food regimes. Consumer advocate groups responded with a call for [Alternative Food Networks]. This gives a new dimension to consumer demands and corporate competitiveness. Australian Consumer Association CHOICE confronted corporate interests with their concerns about growing interests in green consumption, food production, use of pesticides, organic production, and genetic modification, etc...
Green Stickers on consumer goods have been evolving since the 1970s. The main drivers have been energy and fuel consumption. These stickers first started appearing on major appliances after government agencies in the United States and Canada legislated their requirement. Manufacturers are also required to meet minimum standards of energy use. The automobile industry in North America is required to meet a minimum emissions standard. This led to fuel efficiency labels being placed on new automobiles sold. The major appliance manufacturers were required to use standard testing practices and place clear labels on products. The International Organization for Standardization has developed standards for addressing environmental labelling with the ISO 14000 family which grew out of ISO's commitment to support the objective of sustainable development discussed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992
Green Labelling worldwide is moving beyond traditional country borders. Most of these initiatives are voluntary Eco-labels, however, there is an initiative underway in North America to broaden the scope of Green Stickers to include other consumer goods. Although consumers tend to prefer ecolabeled products, recent research show that consumers do not fully understand ecolabels and do not fully trust ecolabels, especially when learning negative environmental consequences of production.
Founded in 1994, the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) is an international non-profit network of third party type I ecolabelling organizations focused on encouraging and promoting type I ecolabelling development worldwide. GEN has members represented from more than 50 territories and countries, with a particular focus in Europe and Asia. GEN’s mission is to educate and encourage government, industry, and consumers to recognize the unique and important value of Type 1 ecolabelling. More specifically, GEN functions to foster cooperation and information exchange across members and ecolabelling programs, facilities access to information on ecolabelling standards, engages with international organizations to promote ecolabelling, and encourages demand for ecolabelling products through the promotion of sustainable public procurement. GEN supports its members in developing environmental leadership standards and criteria.
Created in 2002, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) is a body of sustainability standard organizations set up to advance and develop sustainability standards for products across the globe. Its membership is open to all multi-stakeholder sustainability standards and accreditation bodies that demonstrate their ability to meet the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice and accompanying requirements. Its members are primarily single attribute focused ecolabelling organizations and include the Forest Stewardship Alliance, the Marine Stewardship Council, Fair Trade International, the Rainforest Alliance, and the Alliance for Water Stewardship, among many others.
The goals of ISEAL Alliance are to improve the impacts of standards, define credibility for sustainability standards, increase the uptake of credible sustainability standards, and improve the effectiveness of standards, including driving innovations in standards.
Programs by region
Governments of many countries have environmental protection agencies. These agencies are mandated watchdogs of industry and regulate releasing chemical pollution into the environment. Some of them administer labelling standards; other set minimum requirements for manufacturers.
The Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) run by the Department of Natural Resources Canada regulates both the automobile and appliance manufacturers. EnerGuide label for vehicles found on all new passenger cars, light-duty vans, pickup trucks and special purpose vehicles not exceeding a gross vehicle weight of 3855 kg (8500 lb). The label shows the city and highway fuel consumption ratings and an estimated annual fuel cost for that particular vehicle. Federal law in Canada, under Canada's Energy Efficiency Regulations, requires that the EnerGuide label is placed on all new electrical appliances manufactured in or imported into Canada and that the label indicates the amount of electricity used by that appliance. This information is determined by standardized test procedures. A third-party agency verifies that an appliance meets Canada's minimum energy performance levels.
All major home appliances must meet the Appliance Standards Program set by the US Department of Energy (DOE) on cooperation with the US Federal Trade Commission. Manufacturers must use standard test procedures developed by DOE to prove the energy use and efficiency of their products. Test results are printed on yellow EnergyGuide label, which manufacturers are required to display on many appliances. This label estimates how much energy the appliance uses, compares the energy use of similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs. Appliances that meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are eligible for the blue Energy Star label. The Energy Star label is also available on energy-efficient televisions, computers, audio visual equipment and electronics, office equipment, heating and cooling equipment, and many more products. Energy Star is also available on energy efficient homes and buildings in the United States. American automobile manufacturers are required to use certified U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy test results and cannot use any other fuel mileage results to advertise vehicle fuel efficiency. The state of California has green sticker license plates issued to OHVs is introducing green stickers for all new automobiles in 2009. The Australian based US registered Certification Mark Global GreenTag, also operates its service in the USA since 2018.
The EU Ecolabel was established in 1992 by the European Commission. The EU Ecolabel helps to identify products and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle. Recognized throughout Europe, EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label promoting environmental excellence which can be trusted. It is the only pan-European Type I official ecolabel. The EU Ecolabel is awarded according to ecological criteria agreed on by experts, industry, consumer organizations and NGOs and verified by independent third parties. The implementation of the EU Ecolabel is set through the Regulation (EC) No 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
The Nordic swan is the official ecolabel in Nordic countries. It uses a system of standards, applications for licenses, and independent verification.
In Asia ASEAN is moving towards adopting the ISO's TC 207 environmental management system. Anyone can contribute verifiable sources substantiating its adoption and implementation by member countries as this information is not easily accessible. The Australian Certification Mark Global GreenTag, is also formally recognised in several ASEAN countries.
A number of ecolabels operate in Australia and New Zealand mostly as separate schemes operating in one country only. Global GreenTag operates internationally and is recognized in both countries as is GECA whereas GECNZ operates only within NZ. All 3 ecolabels are ISO 14024 compliant. GreenTag is also an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved Certification Mark.
There are a plethora of sustainable seafood ecolabels, many conservationists feel that the increasing number of labels is further confusing consumers in regard to what seafood is sustainable. As of 2010, ecolabels that can be found on seafood include Marine Stewardship Council, Friend of the Sea, KRAV (Sweden), Naturland (Germany), Thai Quality Shrimp, Global Aquaculture Alliance's Best Aquaculture Practices standard, Label Rouge (France), among still others, and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is in development. Seafood is also labeled "organic" but USDA standards for organic seafood are still in development.
Many consumer appliances have labels indicating whether or not they are energy efficient compared to similar products. Common labels include yellow EnergyGuide tags found in North America as part of the Energy Star program, European Union energy labels, and the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo administrated by the Energy Saving Trust in the United Kingdom. These labels document how much energy an appliance consumes while being used; energy input labeling documents how much energy was used to manufacture the product, an additional consideration in the full life cycle energy use of product.
- Global GreenTag
- Cradle-to-cradle design
- Sustainability standards and certification
- Environmental marketing
Green Label Links
- Blue Angel
- Carbon emission label
- Display Campaign
- Environmental Choice New Zealand
- Environmental Choice Program
- Environmental product declaration
- Forest Stewardship Council
- Friend of the Sea
- Global GreenTag
- Global Ecolabelling Network
- Green Seal
- Greenguard Environmental Institute Certification Program
- ISO 14000 ISO 14020-14025 address environmental labeling
- LEED certification Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- Marine Stewardship Council
- Nordic swan
- Environmental certification
- "ECO-labels as a multidimensional research topic: Trends and opportunities". Journal of Cleaner Production. 135: 806–818. 1 November 2016. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.06.167. Retrieved 14 April 2018 – via www.sciencedirect.com.
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- Jordan, A (2003). In politics, products, and markets: exploring political consumption. Somerest, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
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- "Ecoverified.com Is For Sale". www.ecoverified.com. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- Lavallee, S.; Plouffe S. "The eco-label and sustainable development". The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 9 (6): 349–354. doi:10.1007/bf02979076.
- "Earth_Summit". www.un.org. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- Smith, K.; Lawrence G.; Richards C (2010). "Supermarkets' governance of the agri-food supply chain: is the 'corporate-environmental' food regime evident in Australia". International Journal of Society of Agriculture and Food. 17 (2): 140–161.
- "About us - CHOICE". CHOICE. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "ISO/TC 207". ISO.
- "Singapore Green Label to go regional". eco-business.com.
- Chen, Xianwen; Alfnes, Frode; Rickertsen, Kyrre (2017). "Consumer Preferences, Ecolabels, and Effects of Negative Environmental Information". AgBioForum: The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics. 18 (3): 327–336.
- "Fuel consumption guide". Government of Canada.
- "Canada's Energy Efficiency Regulations". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on 2010-12-25.
- "U.S. Department of Energy, Home Appliance Regulation". Federal Trade Commission USA.
- "California Air Resources Board, DRIVECLEAN.ca.gov". California Air Resources Board USA. Archived from the original on 2009-08-13.
- "ASEAN report on environmental labelling". ASEAN. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Energy Saving Products - Energy Saving Trust". archive.org. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "Global GreenTag - The world's best eco products. Certified". Global GreenTag. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
- Paull, John (2009). The Value of Eco-Labelling (PDF). VDM Verlag. ISBN 3-639-15495-9.
- Ward, Trevor (2008). Seafood Ecolabelling. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-6266-X.
- Rubik, Frieder (2005). The Future of Eco-labelling. Greenleaf Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-874719-87-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eco labels.|
- The EU Ecolabel
- Global GreenTag
- GreenLabel.sg Green Label Singapore
- USA Household Appliance Energy Guide label
- US EPA green vehicle guide
- Ecolabelindex.com Alphabetic index of 445 ecolabels
- Ecospecifier.com.au Ecospecifier- Database of Certified and Verified Products
- GreenScore Canada Consumer product rating system
- The Infography about the Environmental Labeling of Products
- hkgbc.org Hong Kong Green Building Council
- Shaping Sustainable Markets, Database of certification and standards
- wikiPPP.org, A wiki-label initiative (Product, People, Planet)