If you are anything like me you probably find all of the information labels on products a bit daunting and hard to understand. Take for instance plastic products. There are dozens of different quality grades and finding out if it can be recycled can be a bit of a grey area. Electrical goods are getting better at displaying the amount of energy that they consume and thankfully most decent wooden products on the market have labels to let you know that they are from sustainable sources.
The introduction of the European Eco-label, hopes to make choosing green products a bit easier. The label is administered by the European Eco-labeling Board (EUEB) and receives the support of the European Commission, all Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA). The Eco-labeling Board that has initiated the scheme includes representatives from industry, environment protection groups and consumer organisations
The intention of the flower design is to give consumers a guide to easily identify greener products and services. It is a voluntary scheme designed to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment The European Eco-label is part of a broader strategy aimed at promoting sustainable consumption and production. All products bearing the "Flower" have been checked by independent bodies to comply with strict ecological and performance criteria.
The EU Eco-label scheme is open to any product or service, except food, drink, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. There are currently twenty-three product categories, which can receive this award, ranging from home appliances, cleaning materials, and mattresses to office supplies, gardening, Do It Yourself products and more interestingly tourist accommodation services. B+B’s, hotels and self-catering accommodation can be assessed for how they operate. If they are seen to be recycling and reducing waste etc they will be awarded the flower too.
Consumers are beginning to recognise that they can make a positive difference and actively help to protect the environment by buying products that inflict less damage upon it. The EU Eco-label scheme is seen as a simple way of helping you to make informed choices about the products that you buy. The Flower logo is recognised all over Europe and covers a wide range of product groups making it easier to distinguish products that appear to be less harmful to the environment.
While no human activity is completely “environmentally friendly”, there are always opportunities to reduce the impact that certain products have upon the environment. The EU Eco-label scheme has therefore drawn up a set of environmental and performance criteria for judging products. Only if products meet all the criteria can they be awarded the EU Eco-label. These environmental criteria will take into account all aspects of a product's life, from its production and use to its eventual disposal (cradle-to-grave approach). I still feel as though we have to be careful when buying products with this label though. Detergents and chemicals can be bought with this flower sign. The EU Eco-label is awarded to products that only need to be guaranteed to be at least as efficient as conventional products. The products could still contain chemicals that would be damaging to the environment. Most cleaning products however seem to be surpassing conventional products by cleaning at lower temperatures and using ingredients that will cause limited harm to aquatic life, soil and the air etc but it is by no means an indication that the products are totally eco-friendly. It looks good, but is the initiative enough? Maybe not, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.