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Defra guide to "Green" labelling of products

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 05 11:06 am    Post subject: Defra guide to "Green" labelling of products  Reply with quote    


Help is at hand for sale bargain-hunters bewildered by a plethora of green labels and logos on everything from furniture and textiles to dishwashers and cars.

Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, today warned people heading for the Christmas sales that not every product advertised as 'environment-friendly' lives up to the claim.

To help Defra has launched a guide to the trusted green labels and logos on the products in our shops.

Research shows that people are confused by the many different labels and logos on products and packaging.

Defra's pocket-sized guide shows the main types of environmental labels that people are likely to find on many different kinds of products from washing machines to coffee and cars to footballs and explains what they mean.

Mr Morley stressed that it was vital people got to grips with the green labels:

"Individual consumers have a vital role to play when they are choosing which goods and services to buy.

"Some products really are more environmentally responsible than others - but it can be difficult to know which ones.

"A lot of companies use environmental labels and claims in one way or another as evidence of their commitment to the environment, and we certainly encourage them to provide information that's relevant and reliable.

"But consumers need to know what these labels mean and what claims they can trust. The new guide will certainly help, especially now as we enter one of the busiest shopping times of the year."

Ed Mayo, chief executive of the National Consumer Council (NCC) said;

"Trusted green labels can help committed consumers pick a 'greener' way through the maze of product information. But for everyone to follow more sustainable lifestyles, there must also be more sustainable choices on offer."

Among the labels highlighted in the guide is the UK vehicle fuel economy label, new this autumn. It's a voluntary labelling scheme, agreed between the car industry and Government, which is starting to appear on all new cars.

It shows how much carbon dioxide the car emits, along with the estimated fuel costs and vehicle excise duty, highlighting clearly that better environmental performance also means lower road tax and running costs.

To get your free copy of the Shoppers Guide see www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consumerprod/shopguide/index.htm or contact Defra Publications, Admail 6000, London, SW1A 2XX, telephone orders to 08459 556000. Calls are charged at local rate.

Further information on green labels is available from www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consumerprod.

Facts and figures

Over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts estimated as being determined during the product-design phase
The Commission currently estimates that energy consumption can be cut by 10% through eco-design measures
An IEA study on energy savings in California attributes 30% of all energy saving to product standards
Defra's Market Transformation Programme estimates that directives which set minimum standards for cold appliances and lighting ballasts will enable the UK to avoid around 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per annum by 2020 with UK consumers saving approximately 200 million per annum in electricity bills
A recent report by the Co-operative Bank - The Ethical Consumerism Report 2005 - point to a steady growth in ethical consumerism. It found:
In 2004, sales of ethical products and services increased by 15 per cent to a total of 25.8 billion
Spend on food, including Fairtrade and organics topped 4 billion for the first time
Spend on ethical fashion, reported on for the first time, stands at 680 million
Market share for ethical products has increased by 22 per cent over the last six years


Notes for Editors

- The UK operates the European ecolabelling scheme known as the Flower, which currently applies to 23 product groups including fridges, paints and textiles. It is a voluntary scheme and requires independent third party certification. See www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consumerprod/ecolabel

- Other schemes in the UK with independent third party certification tend to apply just to a single type of product (such as food or timber), or to certain types of environmental impacts on a particular type of product (such as schemes covering different aspects of textiles).

- The UK also has an ecolabelling scheme for tourist accommodation and campsites - the Green Tourism Business Scheme - which operates mainly in Scotland but has been rolled out to some parts of England. See www.green-business.co.uk/scotland.html.

- These labels are award-type schemes which are normally intended to mean that the product has achieved a particular level of environmental credibility, depending on the reputation of the scheme. The label identifies the scheme, and should mean that the product has been checked.

A second type of label presents accurate information about the product's specification in a format which enables consumer to compare certain environmental impacts of that product very easily with those of similar products - the European Energy Label (compulsory on certain types of products) is an example, and another is the new UK fuel emission label for cars, which looks like the Energy Label but is a voluntary scheme.

- Green claims are not usually labels in the sense of having a recognised logo (though some large companies do use their own labelling schemes with logos), but they are a recognised way for companies to explain the environmental credentials of a product. The Government and other bodies have issued advice on the best ways of making such claims See www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consumerprod/glc/claims.htm.

- All these schemes vary in aspects such as the strictness of their standards and visibility in the marketplace. However, all claims made about products in the UK are subject to laws and other controls which aim to prevent people being misled.

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