Commission to promote European ecolabel

Following assent from Member States, the European Commission has announced that it is to run a three-year promotion of the EU ‘flower’, the European ecolabel.

The EU Eco-label award scheme has been operational since 1993, when the first product groups were established. In 2000, the scheme was comprehensively revised. In all product groups, relevant ecological issues and corresponding criteria were identified on the basis of whole-life studies of the environmental aspects of the products.

The Commission hopes that the EU’s integrated product policy (IPP) will help address the ecolabel’s low profile – it notes that the flower has not gained “satisfactory visibility on the market” due to lack of policy support.

The Commission also anticipates that IPP will provide new opportunities for the label, possibly including reductions in tax for products carrying the flower and procurement advantages. The campaign will target retailers and local authority and private sector procurement personnel. There will also be a co-operative venture with national and regional ecolabel authorities, aimed at establishing a joint register of products and ultimately a ‘green store’ on the internet, offering goods and services carrying the flower.

The Commission’s overall aim in running the promotion is to help the label gain a “minimum level of visibility” across the EU, and in the medium term to achieve a presence in between 1% and 30% of the market, depending on the type of product.

At the core of the ecolabel scheme are the product groups for which ecological criteria have been developed. Currently 19 product groups attract flower awards, with hard floor coverings and televisions becoming eligible in early December last year, but this figure is due to rise to between 25 and 35 within five years. The groups include textile products, indoor paints and varnishes, a variety of detergents, bed mattresses and refrigerators.

Products with ecolabel criteria under development include vacuum cleaners, tourist accommodation, furniture, tyres, rubbish bags, converted paper products and batteries. Further targets may include telephones, small electrical goods and cars, with service groups under consideration including laundering, car washes and financial services.

France, Denmark and Italy currently hold the most ecolabel awards, for 20,19 and 16 products respectively. The EC is seeking additional funding for the ecolabel, to enable it to market the flower more extensively.

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