New criteria to grant Ecolabel distinctions have been recently adopted for five products categories: Heating systems, bed mattresses, paints and varnishes, textile and absorbent hygiene products.
All these product categories belong to the priority group of products consumed in Europe according to its potential to reduce environmental impacts as identified by the European Union Ecolabel Board (EUEB). The discussion process of this group had been informed by European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) study on the Environmental Impact of Products (EIPRO, Tukker et al., 2006).
For example, the EU27 buildings use 23% of the primary energy supply for heating, and are responsible for a similar share of the related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The EU Ecolabel criteria for heating systems specify the main characteristics that the most efficient heaters on the market must achieve on these two aspects as well as in a number of other issues such as noise, materials, product design, etc. Meeting such specifications and obtaining the subsequent EU Ecolabel will provide consumers with the information needed to make the best purchase choice from the environmental point of view.
The EU Ecolabel criteria are determined on a scientific basis considering the whole life cycle of products. To do so is responsibility of the European Product Bureau managed by the JRC, which produces the technical, economic and environmental analysis needed for its implementation including product specifications. The JRC analyses product groups from the environmental, technological and economic point of view and develops a proposal of product specifications achievable by the 10-20% best performing products on the market. This proposal is further developed in discussions with stakeholders in a consensus based approach in order to arrive at a legal proposal that meets the needs of consumers and industry at the same time.
Recognised throughout Europe, EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label promoting environmental excellence established in 1992, to which hundreds of companies across Europe have joined. Manufacturers can apply for the Ecolabel and increase visibility of their products.