Catalonia seeks to promote greener goods and services through eco-labelling

Catalonia seeks to promote greener goods and services through eco-labelling

An eco-label from Catalonia, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2014, seeks to promote goods and services from the region by highlighting their environmental credentials.

The eco-label, the Emblem of Guarantee of Environmental Quality, was established in 1994 by the Catalan regional government's ministry of environment and housing. Initially, the label applied only to products, but in 1998 it was extended to services. It has gone on to cover services as diverse as office buildings, libraries and museums, vehicle fleet management services and tourism-related services.

The main issues addressed by the certification criteria that underpin the eco-label are minimisation of waste, reduced impacts in terms of energy, resources and water, and use of recycled materials – among the product groups covered are products made from recycled rubber, glass and plastic. Catalan companies offering home-grown goods and services can apply for the label. So far, about 1000 products and services have been certified.

One example of a service sector for which the Catalan regional government has developed eco-label criteria is vehicle fleet management services. So far 14 companies in this sector have obtained the label, representing a wide range of vehicle fleets: commercial fleets, buses, taxis, ambulances, a driving school, bin lorries and public sector vehicle fleets.

The mandatory criteria for award of the eco-label to fleet managers are the following:

  • That an environmental management plan is drawn up
  • Training of at least 30% of drivers in efficient driving
  • Vehicles maintained to manufacturers' specifications
  • Vehicles meet minimum emission standards
  • 30% of vehicles should be low-emissions, which for the purposes of the Catalan eco-label are defined as those that meet certain fuel economy standards, or that are electric, hybrid or other alternative fuel vehicles.

Fleet managers can also improve their chances of achieving certification by going beyond the minimum standards.

The fleet management criteria are designed to help Catalonia reduce pollution from vehicle emissions. The Catalan regional government's public procurement policy provides an incentive to fleet management companies to obtain the label by including criteria relating to more environmentally-friendly fleet services.

The eco-label is beneficial for companies bidding for public contracts in Catalonia more widely, because most of the region's public contracts include environmental criteria. However, the regional government says that more needs to be done to create wider public awareness of the label. People in Catalonia broadly recognise the Emblem of Guarantee of Environmental Quality logo, but are less aware of what it signifies and who is behind the label. The Catalan regional government says it aims to spread broader public awareness of the label so that demand for eco-labelled products and services increases.