In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and selected 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have become a benchmark for the entire world community. They link three elements of sustainable development - economic growth, social challenges, and environmental protection.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has classified the existing environmental labels into three typologies – Type I, II, and III - and has specified the preferential principles and procedures for each one of them. The picture below outlines this taxonomy and gives some examples of ecolabels:
What are they and how exactly do they contribute to solving global problems?
Eco-labeling is a graphical display of a set of environmental information about a product or service, meaning that the product has a lower impact on the environment than similar products and/or is produced using environmentally optimal technologies. Eco-labeling can also be defined as an environmental marketing tool. Strict eco-certification standards motivate manufacturers to make their production more environmentally friendly and provide consumers with a simple and understandable tool for choosing products.
Environmental labels exist in all countries of the world. The most reliable of these are type I eco-labels (ISO 14024). They consider the entire life cycle of a product: from the extraction of raw materials to packaging processing. Most of these eco-labels around the world are united in the Global Eco-Labeling Association (GEN).
To obtain an eco-certificate, companies must:
- Carefully use natural resources and reduce waste, use recycling water supply systems and return possible waste and rejects into the production cycle. This is the transition to sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12).
- Monitor electricity consumption. It is a contribution to the fight against climate change (SDG 13).
- Use wood products from sustainable forest management (SDG 14).
- Recultivate land in the development of quarries for the extraction of mineral raw materials. It is a contribution to the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity (SDG 15).
What is the scale?
According to the global Ecolabel Index, eco-labels are now used in 25 industries in 199 countries. At the moment, there are over 400 different eco-certificates.
On the one hand, the coverage of various industries by eco-standardization is a positive trend: more and more manufacturers are getting the opportunity to “green” their activities. On the other hand, the growth in the number of similar documents and eco-labels in one industry can confuse, especially among ordinary buyers.
The demand for eco-products has increased not only at the level of ordinary buyers, but also at the state level. Today, many countries have developed the practice of "green" public procurement: the presence of an ecolabel is a significant advantage for tenderers. But there is also another side of the coin. As a result of the increasing demand for eco-products, unscrupulous manufacturers began to unreasonably declare the environmental friendliness of th