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Thursday, November 20, 2008


Ecolabel is a labelling system for consumer products (excluding foods and medicine) that are made in a fashion that avoids detrimental effects on the environment. Usually both the precautionary principle and the substitution principle are used when defining the rules for what products can be ecolabelled. Many (but not all) ecolabels are not directly connected to the firms that manufacture or sell the ecolabelled products. Just as for the quality assurance labelling systems it is of imperative importance that the labelling entity is clearly divided from and independent of the manufacturers. All ecolabelling is voluntary, meaning that they are not mandatory by law.

Ecolabelling systems exist for both food and consumer products. Both systems were started by NGOs but nowadays the European Union have legislation for the rules of ecolabelling and also have their own ecolabels, one for food and one for consumer products. At least for the food the ecolabel is nearly identical with the common NGO definition of the rules for ecolabelling.

Many of the food ecolabels follow the recommendations from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, that started in the 1970s.


The EU ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel makes it easier for consumers to choose green products. It is a voluntary scheme designed to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment and for European consumers - including public and private purchasers - to easily identify them.

The scheme came into operation in late 1992 and was designed to identify products which are less harmful to the environment than equivalent brands. For example, eco-labels will be awarded to products that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which damage the ozone layer, to those products that can be, or are, recycled, and to those that are energy efficient. The labels are awarded on environmental criteria set by the European Union.

These cover the whole life cycle of a product, from the extraction of raw materials, through manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of the product. The first products to carry the EU ecolabel were washing machines, paper towels, writing paper, light bulbs and hairsprays.

Ecolabelled products are indicated by the Ecolabel Flower on the product

Consideration is being given to revising the system, and a public consultation on the topic closes on March 2, 2007.

Sustainable seafood ecolabel

The Marine Stewardship Council's distinctive blue ecolabel enables consumers to identify seafood that has come from a sustainable source. The MSC programme is voluntary and fisheries that are independently assessed and meet the MSC's environmental standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. As of August 2008 it can be found on the packaging of seafood and fresh fish counters on over 1,700 products in 38 in countries around the world.

The MSC standard is consistent with the ‘Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Wild Capture Fisheries’ adopted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2005. Any fishery that wishes to become MSC certified and use the ecolabel is assessed against the MSC standard by a third party, independent certification body that has been independently accredited to perform MSC assessments by Accreditation Services International (ASI). Chain of custody certification along the supply chain from boat to point of sale ensures that seafood sold bearing the ecolabel originated from an MSC certified fishery.

To choose seafood that has been certified as sustainable look for the MSC's blue fish-tick.

Sustainable Timber ecolabel

The Forest Stewardship Council ecolabel is found on timber products from forestry operations that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as meeting the highest standards for environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management. The timber is tracked through the supply chain to the end product, so that consumers can choose to buy sustainably harvested wood over alternatives that may be contributing to deforestation worldwide.

Other ecolabels

* Green Seal
* Svanen
* Bra Miljöval
* Blue Angel
* Caribbean Tourism Ecolabel
* Rainforest Alliance Certified
* Energy Star
* Marine Stewardship Council
* Dolphin safe label
* Eugene Green Energy Standard
* Energy Saving Recommended logo by the Energy Saving Trust (UK)
* Environmental Choice New Zealand
* GREENGUARD Certification Program

1 comment:

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