Campaigners applaud Ecolabel decision

Environmental campaigners have applauded national governments' decision to reject controversial changes to a voluntary labelling scheme.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizen’s groups, said proposals from the Commission would have undermined the credibility of the Ecolabel.

The scheme awards special labels to products and services with a high environmental performance.

Member states voted to include new criteria for paints and varnishes in the scheme, but rejected Commission proposals for the new criteria for bed mattresses, textiles and wooden furniture.

If approved, it would have allowed flame retardants and biocides (such as pesticides or germicides) in textiles and mattresses, PVC in wooden furniture and genetically modified organisms in wooden furniture.

The items had previously been ruled out by member states, but had been resurrected by the Commission.

The EEB had raised particular concerns about decaBDE, a flame retardant which is being phased out in televisions under EU legislation to control hazardous substances.

Bianca Morales, EEB’s Ecolabel coordinator, said: “We are delighted that member states took a unified stand against the Commission’s failure to ensure transparent decision-making.

“[This is] sending them a crystal clear message to maintain the Ecolabel as a benchmark for environmental performance.”

Prior to the meeting, the EEB had written to Environment Ministers urging them to oppose the Commission’s plans.

Secretary general John Hontelez said the changes would have been “in direct conflict with [the Ecolabel’s] aim of being a label that represents environmental excellence”.

The Commission will now have to go back to the drawing board and propose new Ecolabel criteria for bed mattresses, textiles and wooden furniture.

Kate Martin

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