When it comes to Eco or Environmental labelling the confusion is unending.
Recent studies concluded there are no globally agreed sets of targets or standards. These all differ amongst countries, and within regional blocks.
These standards and criteria are usually determined by an organization, sometimes an industry trade group, or international organization, in order to compare products across regions in an equal manner.
Environmental labels are largely voluntary schemes. Eco labelling can guide consumers towards a product or service that is least damaging to the environment. Labels also summarise complex information which are often difficult to understand.
In addition, environmental product labels create a ‘virtuous cycle’ – consumers create market for eco-friendly products and manufacturers are encouraged to adapt products/processes to obtain eco-labels.
What you can do
With a bit of effort if we all practiced due diligence about what and how we purchase, one small step brings about greater change.
Thinking of investing? Making your money grow? Look more closely at sustainability indicators of companies in their portfolio of investments.
Check their annual reports for sustainability reporting using ESG guidelines.
Find out more, about the big corporations responsible for the products or services you either purchase regularly or are thinking of buying, especially big ticket items.
Look at food content labelling for ingredients, additives and chemicals in food.
Check for chemical content of products. Are they toxic or harmful?
What others have done
Voluntary labelling by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) uses three catergories.
ISO 14024 Type I labels, commonly known as eco-labels are third-party certified product environmental labels which provide a logo associated with certified products.
ISO 1401 Type II labels are based on self-declarations of the manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers.
ISO 14025 Type III environmental product declarations (EPDs) are based on quantitative life cycle environmental data such as life cycle assessment (LCA). These EPDs licensed by independent organisations are considered the most transparent tool to indicate environmental measures and impact of goods and services.
Type I-like is another type of non-ISO environmental certification which includes FSC (Forest Stewardship Certification) MSC, GreenSTAR (AU) LEED (USA), EnergySTAR (International), Green Globe (International), Greenhouse Friendly (AU). These labels focus on single product catergory.
Become familiar with the regulations around labelling and standards in your country or region if they exist. Alternatively use international standards to guide your choices and check what not to buy.
Environmental product labels cover a range of environmental impacts, across the lifetime of the product starting from raw materials extraction, production to use and disposal
Become aware of ISO labels and their environmental impact. There are two areas of differentiation, i.e. whether a particular scheme is mandatory or voluntary and whether it is carried out independently or issued by a third party.
Call for change
Write to national consumer councils or equivalent. Ask for information on local product/services, environmental standards and Eco labelling.
Check with Government or local government departments responsible for setting or monitoring Environmental standards of products for safety and sustainability. Ask how they monitor.
Write to those responsible for Environmental protection and sustainability since most countries are signatories to the Paris Agreement and UN SDGs.
Get in touch with local interest groups who may be lobbying for change or introducing Environmental standards.