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EU Ecolabel makes green choices easy

When you’re rushing round the aisles of the supermarket or picking up something from the shop, with so many green labels and claims lining the shelves, it can be hard to tell which ones to trust. The EU Ecolabel logo makes it simple to know that a product or a service is both environmentally friendly and of good quality.

To qualify for the EU Ecolabel, products have to comply with a tough set of criteria. These criteria, set by a panel of experts from a number of stakeholders, including consumer organisations and industry, take the whole product life cycle into account – from the extraction of raw materials to production, packaging and transport, right through to your use and then your recycling bin. This life cycle approach guarantees that the products’ main environmental impacts are reduced in comparison to similar products on the market. Fitness-for-use criteria also guarantee good product performance.

If, for example, one considers washing-up liquids: from the extraction of raw materials and factory production to packaging and use, every stage of an EU Ecolabelled product is checked to assess where the main environmental impacts of the product occur.

With washing-up liquids, the biggest environmental impacts occur when products are used, as chemicals enter contact with people, when they are discharged into the environment through waste water and when packaging is disposed.  The EU Ecolabel minimises the use of hazardous substances and substances that may be harmful to the aquatic environment. Substances contained in the products are also highly biodegradable, so they are less damaging when they flow into the waste water system.

Packaging is also reduced as much as possible and fitness-for-use criteria guarantee the efficient performance of the product. This means you can be sure your washing-up liquid is just as effective as any other on the market, but kinder to the environment.

The label has been awarded to thousands of different products across Europe, including soaps and shampoos, baby clothes, paints and varnishes, electrical goods and furniture, as well as services, like hotels and campsites.

Ecolabel scheme in Malta

Each State of the European Economic Area designates a competent body, an independent and impartial organisation that implements the EU Ecolabel scheme at national level. In Malta, the MCCAA has been designated by the European Commission as the competent body that assesses applications and awards the EU Ecolabel to products and services that meet the criteria. It is the first contact point for interested parties to learn more about the scheme, submit an application or ask any questions about the application process or the scheme in general.

To date, the MCCAA has certified five hotels that meet the criteria for tourist accommodation services. These hotels have undergone an intensive audit by MCCAA auditors who collect evidence demonstrating that the EU Ecolabel criteria are being met. The tourist accommodation service product group includes over 60 criteria that cover environmental management, staff training, commitment to increase customer awareness on environmental impacts, efficiency, waste management and prevention and social policies. Two particular criteria in this product category relate to the increased use of local organic food and the minimal use of single dose products (e.g shampoos found in the hotel rooms).

So, the next time you’re booking a hotel, grocery shopping, looking for a TV or computer, buying baby clothing or purchasing paint, look out for the official EU Ecolabel logo. The EU Ecolabel makes green choices easy.

Did you know?

The EU Ecolabel minimises the use of hazardous substances and substances that may be harmful to the aquatic environment.

Where cardboard boxes are used, Ecolabelled light-bulbs use at least 80 per cent recycled packaging.

Campsites and tourist accommodation awarded with the EU Ecolabel are restricted on the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

The small country Denmark has 11 EU Ecolabel campsites. If there were the equivalent amount compared to the total area in the EU, we would have more than 1,000 EU Ecolabel campsites in the whole EU. What potential!

According to a study by Lexmark, each European employee prints an average of 30 pages per day. Choosing EU Ecolabelled paper guarantees paper coming from recycled fibres or sustainably managed forests.

No chlorine gas is used as a bleaching agent in EU Ecolabelled graphic and copying paper.

“EU Ecolabelled products can be an important part of the solution to global warming as they have to use less energy, both in production and in use, and have to be easy to dispose of [...].” (A representative of the Danish Consumer Council).

EU Ecolabelled wall paints use 10 times fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) than conventional products.

In 2011, an EU Ecolabelled hotel in Paris reported that costs for its home care products and samples had halved since obtaining the EU Ecolabel.

UPM, the world’s largest producer of graphic paper, sells 250,000 tonnes of EU Ecolabelled paper products per year – with annual revenue of €3.8 billion.

For more detailed information, contact the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority at Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda, e-mail certification@mccaa.org.mt or call 2395 2000.

This information has been provided by George Cutajar, director for standardisation within the Standards and Metrology Institute.

Odette Vella is director, Information Education and Research Directorate, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

odette.vella@mccaa.org.mt

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