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Many environmental labels exist which aim to help purchasers identify sustainable products or services. The most valuable labels from a GPP perspective are those which are based on objective and transparent criteria and which are awarded by an independent third party. These labels can play a particular role in developing technical specifications and award criteria, and in verifying compliance.

There are many different kinds of labels, such as those which address a single issue (like the Energy Star label) or those which cover multiple criteria.

Labels can be used in two different ways in the context of technical specifications:

  • To help you draw up your technical specifications in order to define the characteristics of the goods or services you are purchasing
  • To check compliance with these requirements, by accepting the label as one means of proof of compliance with the technical specifications

By providing a means of third party verification, labels can help to save time while ensuring that high environmental standards are applied in public procurement.

Labels which refer to the environmental characteristics of the product, work or service in question may also be used to help draft and assess award criteria.

The Buying Green! Handbook outlines how labels can be used at different stages of the procurement process in more detail.

Here you can find a non-exhaustive list of existing EU and international eco-labels.

More information on EU Ecolabel product groups is available here.