What is Ecolabelling?

Ecolabels can help inform our purchasing decisions, whether at work or our personal life. So what are ecolabels, how are they determined & what are their benefits? This article looks at ecolabels, ecolabelling and what is behind them.

Many organisations and individuals have knowledge of ISO 14001 in relation to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) but there many other International Standards that support our business and personal life.

Environmental labels provide information about a product or service in terms of its overall environmental benefits, such as the recyclability of its packaging, or the absence of hazardous materials.

At a time when more and more consumers are motivated to purchase environmentally-friendly products, this information can positively influence our purchasing choices, creating a win-win situation for all.

However, the increasing proliferation of such labelling has led to concerns of ’greenwashing’ and exaggerated marketing claims.

Here is where International Standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) can help with internationally agreed, criteria and methods of labelling to provide a credible and level playing field.

For Consumers:
Can benefit from ecolabels, which provide clear and accurate information
that can be easily compared with other products and services, such as washing machines and detergents.

For Businesses:
Ecolabels can help businesses create their own environmental labelling, which can effectively and accurately describes their products promoting trust and brand awareness.

For Regulators:
Ecolabelling can provide a framework to create public policy that can establish and measure criteria for environmentally-related incentive schemes, such as climate change.

To help provide a framework for environmental labels (ecolabels) and declarations, the following International Standards are available:

ISO 14020:2000
Environmental labels and declarations – General principles, establishes the guiding principles for the development and use of environmental labels and declarations
This International Standard is aimed at businesses, who want to develop an environmental label or claim. It describes the principles to ensure they provide accurate and credible information & provides the principles that underpin all the other standards in the ISO 14020 Ecolabel series

ISO 14024:2018
Environmental labels and declarations – Type I environmental labelling – Principles and procedures
This International Standard provides the principles and procedures for selecting product categories, product-environmental criteria, product-function characteristics and for assessing and demonstrating compliance. Additionally, it establishes the certification procedures for awarding the label.

ISO 14021:2016
Environmental labels and declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling)
In cases, where there no ecolabelling scheme to verify environmental claims, this International Standard provides the means of demonstrating the reliability of self-declared information.

ISO 14025:2006
Environmental labels and declarations – Type III environmental declarations – Principles and procedures
This International Standard establishes the principles and procedures for developing the data for such environmental declarations and the requirements for declaration programmes, including the requirement that data are independently verified.

ISO 14026:2017
Environmental labels and declarations – Principles, requirements and guidelines for communication of footprint information
In terms of the specialised carbon and water footprints of products, this International Standard provides guidance on how to communicate environmental footprint information in a transparent and robust way.

ISO/TS 14027:2017
Environmental labels and declarations – Development of product category rules
This International Standard contains the principles, requirements and guidelines for developing quality Product Category Rules (PCR), which enable comparability of data that is produced to support environmental
claims and declarations

1. Download the ISO Environmental Label publication to discover more about ecolabels here
2. Discover more about ecolabels when buying products for business or personal life
3. Read our other articles on ecolabels and environmental management
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