country: European Union
product: certification scheme & labelled products
what: established in 1992, the European Ecolabel is a unique certification scheme created to inform the consumer about the ‘green’ quality of the products of everyday life. The label covers all products except food, drink, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. All products bearing the ‘EU Flower’" have been checked by independent bodies for compliance with strict ecological and performance criteria.
who: the EU Ecolabel is administered by the European Eco-labelling Board (EUEB) and receives the support of the European Commission, all Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA). The Eco-labelling Board includes representatives from industry, environmental protection groups and consumer organisations.
how: while no human activity is completely 'environmentally friendly', there are always opportunities to reduce the impact that certain products have upon the environment. The EU Ecolabel scheme has therefore drawn up a set of environmental and performance criteria for judging products. These criteria are based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of each product, which means that all possible impacts on the environment are taken into consideration ‘from cradle to grave’: from use of resources (raw materials, energy, water) to production processes, distribution, use and disposal.
Only if a product meets all the criteria can it be awarded the EU Ecolabel. The ‘flowered’ products are not necessarily more expensive. In any case, the ‘Flower’ adds value to a product, since it has a reduced impact on the environment and meets strict performance standards.
an example: a ‘flowered’ TV responds to the following characteristics:
the product consumes less energy during use and standby;
it contains fewer substances that are dangerous for health and the environment;
the products can be taken back by the manufacturer free of charge after use;
it contains instructions for correct use in terms of its environmental impact;
it is designed for greater durability and recyclability.
online catalogue: over the past ten years, the ‘Flower’ has become a European-wide symbol for products, providing simple and accurate guidance to consumers. For some products, the flower logo is also becoming well known outside Europe. It covers a wide range of product groups: there are currently 21 different product groups, and more than 180 licences have already been awarded for several hundred products. Recently, the EU Commission put an interactive, easy-to-use catalogue online[ www.eco-label.com]. Thanks to it you can find out about products in your country that carry the EU Eco-label and where you can buy them.