Labels: LCM and Ecolabels
Methodology of ecological criteria development for products under ecolabelling program of type I
Living Planet, Ukraine
In the report the methodology of ecological criteria development for ecolabelling program of type I on the example of ecological criteria for mattresses is presented, as well as presentation of ecolabelling program in Ukraine, its results and advances during 2003-2010.
Ecolabelling body – All-Ukrainian NGO “Living Planet” – is certified according to the requirements of international standards ISO/Guide 65 and ISO 14024. It is also the member of Global Ecolabelling Network since 2004.
Under ecolabelling program of type I special attention is paid to the methodology of development and establishment of ecological criteria.
The main principal of ecological criteria development is consideration of the whole life cycle for product category to signify the most important ecological aspects that demonstrate environmental impacts of given product.
Mattresses are especially important item in our everyday life. They are in direct contact with human body during sleep and integrated constituent of any home.
When developing ecological criteria for mattresses it is necessary first of all to determine the boundaries of life cycle investigation, taking into account the most significant ecological aspects.
Further we consider the possibility of establishing of limits for impacts, taking into account that these limits have to be available for not less that 30 % of products on the market.
For given product category the most significant ecological aspects are quality of raw materials, that constitute the ready product, as well as the production process and its environmental impacts.
That’s why during ecological criteria development requirements to latex and polyurethane foam, springs, coconut fibers, wood materials, textiles, glues and etc. were established.
Mention should be made that ecological criteria contain both obligatory and optional requirements. Optional requirements have recommendatory character, while fulfillment of obligatory requirements is the main evidence of product ecological priority.
Another practice of criteria development is harmonization of existing criteria of other ecolabelling programs.
For example, ecological criteria for mattresses were developed using the following criteria: Taiwan's Green Mark Program for Mattresses, Ecological Criteria of EU Eco-Label to Bed Mattresses and Basic Criteria for Matresses RAL-UZ 119 (Blue Angel).
The final assessment is carried out by filling the check-list that clearly demonstrates all qualitative and quantitative characteristics, stated in ecological criteria.
For today ecolabelling body has provided 321 licensees and developed 34 ecological criteria. Questionnaires prove that consumers in Ukraine are interested in ecolabelled products and 20 % of them are ready to pay 30 % more for such products.
Environmental benefits of ecolabelling of services – the ripple effect
Nordic Ecolabelling, Denmark
The Nordic Ecolabel has criteria for about 60 product groups – of which some are services such as cleaning services, hotels, restaurants, textile services etc. Common for ecolabelling of these services is that they also create a market pull for related ecolabelled products resulting in further supply of such products on the market available for the ecolabelled companies as well as other market actors.
On the basis of a case on ecolabelling of laundries in Denmark, the presentation will show how ecolabelling of a service can have both direct and indirect positive effects, which go beyond the individual laundry company applying for the Ecolabel. Competitors, suppliers and sub-suppliers can be affected positively via the ripple effect.
A criteria document for Nordic Ecolabelling of laundries has existed since 2001, but with no success in Denmark until 2008, where a chain of ecolabelled hotels encouraged their supplier of textile services to apply for the Nordic Ecolabel. Since the first laundries got a license in the end of 2008, the situation has changed completely and the interest for ecolabelling in the marked both regarding providers and buyers of textile services has increased dramatically and is still growing. A situation like this where things begin to move after the first issued licence is well known also for other product groups – and does not only concern services.
Ecolabelling of laundries have had many positive benefits such as substitution and reformulation of chemicals, reduced energy and water consumptions, shift to less polluting fuels and technology, purchase of a higher fraction of ecolabelled textiles, and education of chauffeurs in eco-efficient driving. Another outcome has been that suppliers apply for ecolabel licences for even more products as this makes it easier for the laundries when these apply for the Ecolabel.
Reformulation of chemicals used by the ecolabelled laundries has also lead to benefits for other laundries (not ecolabelled) that are using the same chemical suppliers. These benefits have e.g. been substitution of CMR substances, perfumes and other substances with environmental and/or health related impacts.
Eco-labelling criteria development for strategic life cycle management
1Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden; 2Luleå University of Technology, Sweden; 3The Natural Step International, Sweden
To accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society, changes in consumption and production decisions are crucial. A good balancing between regulative instruments and market-based instruments is needed. Eco-labelling type I is an important voluntary instrument with a potential to create incentives for changes towards strategic life cycle management along value chains. But the mere existence of this instrument is not enough to utilize this potential. Earlier studies point at deficiencies in theory, process and practice of eco-labelling, which hampers cohesiveness, transparency and comprehension. These deficiencies also hamper predictability and thereby strategic life cycle management, as producers get no support in foreseeing how coming revisions of criteria will develop. This represents a lost opportunity.
The purpose of this study is to sketch out how, in principle, a criteria development process for eco-labelling type I schemes could integrate a strategic sustainability perspective and thereby support strategic life cycle management.
A previously published Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, utilizing backcasting from a situation when products and services do not contribute to systematic degradation of socio-ecological systems, is used as a basis for finding guidelines for such a criteria development process.
A prototype criteria development process, including components from initial selection of product category to final decision of criteria, is presented. Fundamental strengths and challenges of this prototype are discussed in relation to current processes. From this comparison it is concluded that the new criteria development process should be practically useful and theoretically more solid both within eco-labelling programmes and in green procurement schemes. However, during its further development and implementation it should be tested in successive iterations of action research together with experienced practitioners.
Feasibility of environmental product information based on life cycle thinking
ESU-services Ltd., Switzerland
In the recent past there were many initiatives for showing the carbon footprint or other environmental impacts on consumer products. An important sector of application is the food sector. After initial enthusiasm about the usefulness of such approaches, difficulties occur which are already partly known to LCA practitioners. A feasibility study investigated the possibilities for such information in detail.
The presentation evaluates different approaches for providing environmental information on food products based on LCA. It shows the main challenges for meaningful information that should direct consumer decisions. The study considers carbon footprint alone to be not sufficient for environmental information and thus highlights the use of LCA for this purpose. A special issue of LCA information on products is the consideration of the use and end-of-life phase, which might be important, but cannot be foreseen and only partly be influenced by the producer. Therefore, different approaches are applied in today practice. Furthermore, one has to decide about the level of decision making addressed by the approach and thus about the functional unit for which information can be shown.
Communication of LCA results in a very simplified form is another issue of consideration. Therefore, different approaches are explained and compared in the presentation. Finally, also uncertainties of quantitative information about environmental impacts on products need to be taken into account.
Some case studies e.g. on vegetables or mineral water are evaluated in order to highlight general methodological problems of such an approach.
The presentation shows that the idea of LCA product labels is welcomed. But, there are many obstacles for putting this into practice, which make it questionable if environmental information on products really can direct consumer behaviour into a more sustainable direction.
Product sustainability assessment (PROSA) as a tool to develop awarding criteria for eco-label
Climate protection requires low-threshold offers for consumers to reduce their individual carbon footprint. At his daily purchasing decision the consumer must be enabled to pick the best product in terms of climate protection and to influence the market by his conscious consumption.
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) recommends in a memorandum about Product Carbon Footprint (http://www.bmu.de/45365.php) the well-established Blue Angel eco-label as an appropriate label for the communication of best products within Germany.
The Blue Angel, known in Germany by 80% of consumers, should be developed to a national climate protection label for products according to the expectation of the ministry.
The label therefore was extended by the addition "protecting the climate" and will mark in the future in all major product segments (except food) these products that are particularly energy-efficient or make a particularly large contribution to energy savings. Additionally these products meet requirements on other important environmental characteristics such as harmful substances, recyclability, complying with water conservation and low noise emissions.
A consortium of research institutions, led by the Öko-Institut, was commissioned by the ministry to develop eco-label criteria for altogether 100 climate-related products.
As a methodology, the consortium uses here the Product Sustainability Assessment (PROSA, http://www.prosa.org) . This method gives a market overview and an analysis of consumer behaviour, products are analyzed technically and best available technologies are identified. Over a life cycle approach particularly relevant effects of the products at production, use and disposal are investigated. The focus of PROSA is not only on the energy consumption but also on other environmental and health aspects, social implications and economic impact of the product. Based on this analysis eco-label criteria are derived through a stakeholder process and are proposed as award criteria for the Blue Angel.
Consumers are thereby given an easy to understand information tool, that can identify the most environmentally friendly and sustainable products.
Through the actual application as a product label, the eco-label criteria offer even more utilization: Manufacturers get a benchmark for the further development of products. Public procurement can use the established criteria for their procurement requirement. And the policy may test certain requirements that go beyond the legislative minimum levels at the real market.
With these applications the national label for climate protection has the opportunity to be an important and versatile instruments to make a sustainable product-policy.
Society environmental economic benefits of swan-labelled workwear service
1University of Southern Denmark, Denmark; 2Rambøll Management, Denmark
As part of a study done for the Danish EPA 2009-2010 that aimed at developing and testing a method for the comparison of economic consequences for the society of choosing “green products” rather than similar “conventional products” an assessment of delivery of workwear service was conducted.
The aim of the study
The overall aim of this part of the study was to assess and compare the economic costs of a group of Danish laundries providing dedicated swan-labelled workwear service to a European sample of similar laundries /ref.1/ - including the Danish laundries.
The comparison was done for the service of providing one worker with clean workwear for one year and covered resources like energy; water and detergents used for the cleaning and maintenance of the textiles supplied, but excluded transportation to and from the clients and wastewater treatment since this was assumed to be equal in the two supplies.
The study clearly demonstrates the benefits of the reduced resource consumption in the swan-labelled supply versus the European average supply. This is demonstrated both in environmental and economic terms and the savings naturally benefit both the swan-labelled laundry companies and the society per se.
Further is was realised that the intended aim to compare the economic costs of the environmental impacts of textile production in the two systems had to be given up due to the lack of reliable data for the environmental impacts of the eco-labelled or Oeko-Tex-labelled textiles versus the conventionally produced textiles.
The paper will in particular describe how the workwear service is defined, how the actual assessment is done and provide the detailed results of the assessment.
Ref. 1: ETSA Survey of Resources Consumption in Workwear Laundries, ETSA, 2009