Global Ecolabelling Network
Ecolabels are labels indicated on products that have a reduced impact on the environment than their counterparts. The rationale of ecolabels is that increasingly consumer preferences for these products will stimulate innovative environmental products and processes.With creation of the German Blue Angel programme in 1977, ecolabelling entered mainstream environmental policy-making. Since then there has been a great deal of debate and discussion about the environmental effectiveness of ecolabelling. With the growth of the number of ecolabels worldwide, and the lack of detailed data on the environmental impact of these various programs, ecolabelling has been criticised with becoming a marketing tool that possibly exploits the consumers “willingness to pay” for the environmental attributes for products marked with an ecolabel.
It is important to know that there are different types of ecolabels. The ISO has defined three types of ecolabels through the ISO 14000 series of environmental assessment. They are:
- Type I: are part of a voluntary program that is based on multiple criteria and is certified by a third party. These programs license the use of authorized ecolabels that indicate the environmental preferability of a product within a product category based on life cycle considerations.
- Type II : are part of a voluntary program that give informative environmental self declaration claims
- Type III: are part of a voluntary program that provide quantified environmental data about a product and that are independently verified against pre-set parameters. In other words, the product meets certain standards.
Since globally ecolabelling is still largely voluntary, and countries and regions have separate ecolabelling schemes. There is an increasing need to develop credible ecolabelling programs and share information between the international ecolabelling schemes.
Recognising this need for co-operation between international ecolabelling schemes, the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) was formed in 1994.
About the Global Ecolabelling Network
The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) is a non-profit association of third party environmental performance labelling organisations. GEN consists of 26 members that operate ecolabelling programs around the world. These include:
- Good Environmental Choice Australia Ltd in Australia
- Associacao Brasileira de Normas Tecnicas in Brazil
- Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning in Croatia that has the Environmental Label Program
- Ministry of Environment in Czech Republic
- The European Commission in the EU that has the European Ecolabel
- The Federal Environmental Agency in Germany that runs the Blue Angel program
- The Green Council in Hong Kong that has the Hong Kong Green label scheme
- The Hong Kong Federation of Environmental Protection Ltd that has the Hong Kong Ecolabel scheme
- The Central Pollution Control Board in India
- The Ministry of Environment in Indonesia that has the Ekolabel Indonesia Program
- The Japan Environment Association that has the Eco Mark Program
- The Korea Eco-Products Institute with the Korea Eco-label Program
- Environmental Choice New Zealand
- Nordic Ecolabelling Board for 5 Nordic countries that runs the Nordic Swan program
- Terra Choice Environmental Service Inc, Environment Canada that runs the EcoLogo Program
- Green Seal USA
- Clean and Green Foundation Inc, in the Philippines
- Saint-Petersburg Ecological Union in Russia that runs the Vitality Leaf program
- Environment and Development Foundation in Taiwan which runs the Green Mark Program
- The Singapore Environment Council which runs the Singapore Green Label Scheme
- The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
- TCO Development in Sweden
- The Thailand Environment Institute that runs the Green Label Thailand
- Living Planet in Ukraine which runs The Program for Development in Ecological Marking in Ukraine
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK
The basic criteria for GEN membership are that the organisations must be non profit organisations, with no conflicts of interest due to their source of funding. They must have stringent criteria for environmental labelling based on the lifecycle of the product, and must have a legally protected logo. The environmental criteria must be periodically reviewed.
The GEN Mission and Functions
The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) improves, promotes and develops credible ecolabelling programs worldwide by serving as platform for exchange of information on national ecolabelling programs and activities around the globe.
GEN fosters co-operation among its members that cover a wide geographical area, and run some of the foremost ecolabelling programs in the world. The sharing of knowledge and expertise among GEN is expected to raise the quality of global ecolabelling programs both in terms of design and implementation. GEN provides assistance to its members and acts as a bank of information for setting up national ecolabelling programmes.
On a broader scale GEN, through its members, promotes the demand and supply of environmentally responsible goods and services. To this end, GEN members educate the public, as well as participate in international meetings and events to promote ecolabelling in general.
The Global Ecolabelling Network has introduced Associates into its fold which are non-profit agencies that formally support ecolabelling but do not run ecolabelling programs. Currently, the GEN associates are the ISEAL Alliance and the Greenguard Environmental Institute.
- FAO Corporate Document Repository
- The Trade and Environmental Effects of Ecolabels
- About GEN
- Global Ecolabelling Network Website