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Market News

 May 31, 2009
Europe - Revision of the European Eco-label

 

The EU Eco-label is a voluntary label which is awarded to the most environmentally friendly products on the EU market. The flower can be found throughout the EU and Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland. The eco-label program is part of a European Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption.  

The aim of the eco-label scheme is to encourage manufacturers to design products that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, from manufacturing to disposal. It also aims to provide consumers with better information on the environmental performance of products and encourage them to buy green products. 

In April 2009 the eco-label legislation was revised, with streamlined processes and lower prices, the provisional text of the new legislation (PROV(2009)0209) is available here. The Regulation is expected to apply in full from Summer 2009. After its official publication, the Eco-label Regulation and more general information may be found at: The European Commission’s Eco-label Website 

Which products are eligible?

The Eco-label covers industrial products, mainly everyday consumer goods. It does not apply to food products, drinks and medicines. However, independently of the adoption of the Ecolabel Regulation, the Commission has confirmed that it intends to propose a Regulation on eco-labeling of fishery products, to be mainly based on criteria for sustainable fishing, before the end of 2009. The criteria for the Eco-label are established for individual product groups. At present a license for use of the eco-flower label has been awarded more than 820 times. The Eco label may be awarded to the following product groups:

  • All purpose cleaners and cleaners for sanitary facilities
  • Detergents for dishwashers
  • Hand dishwashing detergents
  • Laundry detergents
  • Soaps and shampoos
  • Copying Paper
  • Washing Machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Heat pumps (criteria under development)
  • Light bulbs
  • Personal and portable computers
  • Refrigerators
  • Televisions
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Tissue paper products (under revision)
  • Bed mattresses (under revision)
  • Furniture (criteria under development)
  • Textiles (under revision)
  • Footwear
  • Campsite service
  • Tourist accommodation
  • Lubricants
  • Indoor and outdoor paints and varnishes (under revision)
  • Soil improvers
  • Printed paper
  • Hard and soft floor coverings (criteria under development)

This list is constantly revised to include new products and services as well as to update revisions on criteria for present products and services. Information on product groups and the criteria can be found at: European Union’s Website on Eco-label Product Groups 

How to apply?  

A manufacturer who wishes to apply for the eco-label must contact a national competent body and prove that its product meets the criteria for the award of the label. Competent bodies are government agencies that carry out the Community Eco-label Award Scheme at the national level. The duties of competent bodies include: drafting eco-label criteria, assessing applications, and awarding the eco-label to applicant companies. Ecological and performance criteria have been developed for each product category. They are based on reductions in the use of natural and energy resources, emissions into the air, water and soil, and the generation of waste and noise. 

The steps on how to apply may be found at the following site: European Union’s Eco-label ’How to Apply’ List of national competent authorities in the 25 EU member States can be found here

How much does it cost?

National competent authorities charge an application fee and an annual fee. The application fee is between 200 to 1,200 Euro, with a maximum fee of 600 Euro for SMEs and 350 for micro-enterprises. The annual fee for the use of the logo is up to 1,500 Euro, with a maximum for SMEs of 750 Euro and micro-enterprises pay an annual fee of 350 Euro. 

To determine if your company is an SME or a micro-enterprise please click here. Prices will not differ substantially from one EU country to the other. U.S. firms, for language reasons, may want to apply for the eco-label in the UK and Ireland. 

Neither the application fee nor the annual fee will include any cost towards testing and verification that may be necessary for products that are the subject of applications. Manufacturers are responsible for the costs of such test and verification themselves, including travel expenses incurred if the competent authority travels to a facility to verify claims. 

What does the Eco-label mean for US business?  

The eco-label process has recently been streamlined and the associated costs have been lowered in an effort to increase use of the label. At present, more than 820 labels have been awarded. There are also labels promoting eco-friendly standards on a national level that may be more widely recognized depending on the country or region. As this is a voluntary scheme, products without the EU eco-label can still enter the EU as long as they meet the existing health, safety, and environmental standards and regulations. 

US companies with eco-friendly products should be aware that the eco-label is just one of the European Sustainable Consumption and Production Policies, which aim at reducing the negative impact of consumption and production on the environment, health, climate and on natural resources. These policies aim to encourage producers and consumers alike to consider the environment in all stages of the production and consumption cycle and create a larger market for environmentally friendly products. 

For example, public authorities are required to embed environmental considerations into every stage of the public procurement process (for more information see Green Public Procurement and the Eco-label). In light of the European emphasis on green consumerism and increasing consumer demand, the eco-label can be a good marketing tool to show consumers the superior environmental performance of your product. Moreover, the same logo is used in all the 27 member states.  

For More Information www.buyusa.gov/europeanunion.