Product Stewardship for Manufacturers

Eco-Labeling

Eco-label programs are certification programs in which a product, process, or management system is certified to meet specific environmental criteria as established by an assessment body. Manufacturers wishing to achieve certification to an eco-label program may enjoy marketing advantages because the certification positively differentiates their products as environmentally sound.

Typically, the assessment organization will certify the product/process and upon approval, allow the applicant to use a logo on the product label, packaging, and/or advertising. Independently, a manufacturer can label their products with non-certified, specific, environmental information, which is another form of eco-labeling.

There are many international eco-labeling entities that certify products for their country, and for manufacturers who sell products in their country. Additional programs certify performance-specific features such as the energy efficiency or indoor air quality emissions of various products or processes.

Eco-labeling programs have influenced product design in the areas of life-cycle impact, durability, hazards, recyclability, and more. The criteria differ for each program and can cover the product itself, and in addition, the processes used to manufacture the product, or other life-cycle impacats. Examples include efficient use of fossil fuels, reduction of greenhouse gas emission, conservation of resources, concentration restrictions on substances such as heavy metals and toxins.

Who's Doing It?

Simple Suggestions

checkbox Determine which ecolabeling standard(s) you want to meet

Reason: Many programs exist; internationally-based, or categorically-based, so it depends on the markets you are trying to target
Examples:

checkbox Eco-labeling can influence product design: Apply Design for Environment (DfE) and lifecycle (LCA) tools and principles to existing or new products so they will meet the criteria

Reason: DfE and LCA will applications will help meet most ecolabeling criteria
Example: "In Sweden, the nation's leading supermarket chain required its laundry detergent and home cleaning product suppliers to qualify for an eco-label or face loss of shelf space. In response to this ultimatum, major companies such as Procter and Gamble, Unilever and Johnson Wax have reformulated their products" to reduce hazardous constituents and meet ecolabeling specifications (Source: ILSR)

checkbox Self-certify your product(s), packaging, and processes before third-party validation

Reason: Confidence in your product
Example: Go through the criteria one-by-one and verify the product meets necessary requirements

checkbox Design your product labels, product literature, and advertising to include the logo from the accredited program

Reason: Many of the certification logos do have a high level of market recognition
Example: "The high level of market recognition associated with this label [Germany's Blue Angel] among German consumers makes it very desirable for global manufacturers" (Source: Green Marketing)

checkbox Get your approved product listed, as certified, in as many environmental purchasing catalogs, websites, and databases as possible

Reason: Maximize existing marketing opportunities for environmental products
Example: List of environmental purchasing resources

 

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