Ecolabels are a way for consumers to be informed and sure that the labelled products are healthier and better for the environment.
Ecolabels are credible since they are issued by an independent organisation and they are in compliance with the ISO 14024 standard. However, it is important to learn to distinguish ecolabels from other environmental labels.
Society is becoming increasingly concerned about how to cause as little damage to our environment as possible during production. An ecolabel is a symbol that verifies that a product or service is eco-friendly.
The term “ecolabel” usually means an environmental label that complies with specific principles.
Various schemes have been developed throughout the world in regard to granting ecolabels, but they are distinguished from environmental labelling schemes by several specific principles:
- A product bearing an ecolabel is required to comply with strict criteria established by experts in the field.
- The entire life-cycle of a product has been taken into account upon reducing the environmental impact of a product bearing an ecolabel.
- An ecolabel has been issued by a so-called third party who has assessed the compliance of the product with strict requirements.
- Using and applying for an ecolabel is voluntary.
Ecolabel is an opportunity to reduce the negative impact on the environment, facilitate efficient utilisation of natural resources and promote high-quality environmental protection, raise environmental awareness of consumers and manufacturers by promoting environmentally sound products, thereby impacting the market towards environmental conservation.
In addition to the aforementioned ecolabels, there is a wide range of various environmental labels on the market that indicate that a product or service is eco-friendly. For instance, labels that consider only one aspect of production or product property, or organic farming labels that indicate the organic nature of the raw material of the product.
Benefits of the ecolabel
- an ecolabel verifies to consumers that the labelled product is more eco-friendly than others in the relevant product group;
- products bearing an ecolabel are often healthier;
- ecolabel is credible as it is issued by an independent organisation, based on adequate information and scientific research;
- ecolabel notifies the consumer that the manufacturer cares about the environment and establishes the company’s reputation. Environmentally responsible consumers often stay loyal to eco-labelled products;
- ecolabel distinguishes the product from other equivalents and provides a market advantage;
- the criteria concerning the issue of an ecolabel may be used in (public) procurement documents, therefore it is easy to verify the environmental indicators of an eco-labelled product;
- assessment of the environmental impact of the product during the ecolabel application process emphasises the areas that need improvement (e.g. change of technology) and generally saves money;
- therefore, an ecolabel is a great means of environmental communication for a company to introduce the product and earn the trust of consumers, and it can significantly increase product sales;
- consumers of eco-labelled products guide the market towards becoming more environmentally sound, thus facilitating the development and production of environmentally friendly products and reducing the environmental impact of consumption.
The EU ecolabel is the only type I ecolabel that can be applied for in Estonia. In Estonia, the activity of the EU ecolabel, i.e. the EU Flower, is coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment and licences are issued by the Environment Agency.
A state fee shall be paid for reviewing the ecolabel application:
- micro-enterprise 200 euros
- small and medium-sized enterprise and operator in a developing country 250 euros
- large enterprise 320 euros
An annual state fee shall be paid for the use of the ecolabel:
- micro-enterprise 50 euros
- small and medium-sized enterprise and operator in a developing country 100 euros
- large enterprise 200 euros
Enterprises can apply for support under the circular economy programme of the Environmental Investment Centre to bring their product into compliance with the criteria for the EU ecolabel.
Issue of the EU ecolabel is governed by Regulation No. 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council.