Purchasing environmentally responsible products with the European Ecolabel

During the last few years, more and more companies consider the environment. One aspect of this is environmentally responsible purchasing of products, where the lowest price no longer plays the only role. On the contrary, more and more companies pose themselves the question whether the products and services they purchase are environmentally responsible indeed. In order to distinguish between environmentally unfriendly and environmentally friendly products, there are already quite a few labels out there. One of the reliable labels is the European Ecolabel.

Which are the benefits of the EU Ecolabel?
- The EU Ecolabel aims to reduce the negative effects of production and usage on the environment, public health, climate and the natural resources. Only products which meet the strict demands in connection with environment quality and performance, can obtain the EU Ecolabel. Products with the EU Ecolabel are gentle to the environment and have a good quality.

- The EU Ecolabel exists for very diverse product categories and services, from cleaning agents, through paints to fabrics, computers and holiday homes,….

- The EU Ecolabel considers the product's complete life-cycle; from the production up to the waste phase, where other environment labels stand for one environment viewpoint, such as recycling or energy efficiency.

- Developing the criteria takes place on the basis of scientific studies and a broad consultation, where the member states, the European Economic Area, the environment NGOs, consumer associations, professional associations, small & medium sized companies and middlemen are involved.
- All countries of the European Union, as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland recognise the EU Ecolabel.

Applying for the EU Ecolabel

If you apply for the EU Ecolabel, you have to go through a procedure, where you must submit data, calculations, declarations and/or test reports. In exchange for this, you may apply a reliable environment label onto your product(s).

The benefits for your company are numerous:
- You tap new markets: more and more principals make demands concerning sustainable development to their suppliers.
- You respond to the demand of the consumers, who with their purchases become ever more sensitive to environment criteria.
- Applying for an environment label at European level is more interesting than having to apply in each country for a national label. Moreover, Belgium does not have its own national label, so that for Belgian companies it is even more interesting to apply for the EU Ecolabel. If you apply for the EU Ecolabel for a product, this label can be used in all 28 European member states, as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. The EU Ecolabel is a reliable label. The criteria of the EU Ecolabel are drawn up in such a way that only the 10% to 20 % most environmentally responsible products on the market can meet these criteria. These criteria are based on scientific studies and consider the environmental burden through the entire product life-cycle. The criteria of the EU Ecolabel are reviewed every 3 to 5 years. In every country a competent national authority ensures the awarding of the EU Ecolabel. This is an independent institute which assesses the applications. In Belgium this is the Ecolabel Committee, the secretariat of which is housed at the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

On the website www.ecolabel.be you can find out a lot more about the EU Ecolabel, such as:
• For which product groups there is an EU Ecolabel;
• How the criteria are drawn up;
• How you can apply for the EU Ecolabel;
• …

The European regulation

The general rules for the introduction and application of the EU Ecolabel, are described in the Regulation of November 25th, 2009 (Nr. 66/2010). For every product group specific criteria are drawn up. An overview of the current criteria can be found on the European website (the criteria can be downloaded in the different European languages).

If you have any trouble with looking up criteria, you can always contact the secretariat of the Belgian EU Ecolabel committee.