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Community Ecolabel Scheme (proposal)

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The Community Ecolabel scheme aims to encourage production and consumption of products and services with a reduced environmental impact compared to other products and services in the same category.

ACT

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 July 2008 on a Community Ecolabel scheme [COM(2008) 401 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The aim of this proposal for a Regulation is to modify the existing Community Ecolabel system to improve its efficacy and rationalise its function. The aim is to encourage sustainable production and consumption of products, as well as sustainable provision and use of services, by setting benchmarks for good environmental performance on the basis of the best performing products and services available on the market.

In particular this revision aims to:

  • raise awareness of the Ecolabel in the European Union (EU) and the rest of the world;
  • increase the number of product groups covered by the label (from 23 currently to 40 -50 by 2015), especially product categories with a substantial environmental impact;
  • put many more Ecolabel products on the shelves for consumers to choose from (with a 10% market share in product groups covered by the label);
  • harmonise the Ecolabel with other labels in Europe and globally;
  • make criteria documents easier to use by public purchasers;
  • offer companies the option to obtain the Ecolabel with limited cost and effort while still maintaining its credibility with consumers and environmental groups.

Competent bodies

Each Member State shall designate one or more neutral and independent body or bodies responsible for carrying out the tasks provided for in this Regulation. The Commission shall establish a European Union Ecolabelling Board (EUEB) and appoint its members consisting of representatives of competent bodies at Member State level and representatives of other interested parties. The Commission shall ensure that, in the conduct of its activities, the EUEB observes a balanced participation of all relevant interested parties concerned with each product group, such as competent bodies, manufacturers, retailers, importers, environmental protection groups and consumer organisations.

The EUEB shall contribute to the development and revision of the Ecolabel criteria and to the review of the implementation of the Ecolabel. The Board shall also provide the Commission with advice and issue recommendations on minimum environmental performance requirements *.

Criteria

The Ecolabel can be applied to any goods or services which are supplied or distributed on the Community market whether in return for payment or free of charge. Concerning food products, it shall only apply to processed food and to the products of fishing and aquaculture.

The Ecolabel criteria shall be based on the environmental performance of products. This performance shall be determined on the basis of the best performing products on the Community market in line with the strategic objectives of the Community on the environment.

This performance will be evaluated in terms of the most significant environmental impacts* during the life cycle of products such as the impact on climate change, nature and biodiversity or on energy and resource consumption, generation of waste, emissions in all areas of the environment, pollution through physical effects, as well as the use and release of hazardous substances.

After consultation with the EUEB, the Commission shall adopt measures which aim to establish specific criteria for the Ecolabel for each product category. It will lay down requirements for assessing the compliance of specific products with the Ecolabel criteria and specify the period of validity of the criteria employed.

The Regulation introduces a new logo for the Ecolabel, which is detailed in Annex II. The logo includes the slogan “Good environment choice”, as well as the inclusion, if necessary, of the product’s three key environmental characteristics as determined by the Commission.

Registration, monitoring and control

Companies who wish to use the Ecolabel must register with one of the competent bodies in the Member State where the product originates from or one of the Member States where the product will be marketed.

The competent body may charge a fee of up to EUR 200 for processing the registration. National bodies shall inform the Commission of new registrations. The Commission shall keep a common register of all registrations and make it publicly available.

Competent bodies in the Member States shall carry out regular checks on users of the Community Ecolabel. If it becomes apparent that a user has not complied with the relevant product group criteria or it has not complied with the registration procedure, the competent body shall prohibit the use of the Ecolabel on the products concerned.

Context

The importance of the Ecolabel system, which was created in 1992, was underlined in the framework of the strategy related to the Integrated Product Policy and the Sixth Environment Action Programme for the European Community. Conforming to Regulation (EC) No 1980/2000 on a revised Community eco-label award scheme, the Commission re-examined the system in light of the experience gained during the initial scheme. This Proposal foresees the repeal of Regulation (EC) No 1980/2000.

Key terms of the Act

  • Environmental performance: the result of a manufacturer's management of those characteristics of products that cause environmental impact.
  • Environmental impact: any change to the environment resulting wholly or partially from a product during its life cycle.

REFERENCES

Proposal

Official Journal

Procedure

COM(2008) 401 final

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COD 2008/0152

Last updated: 03.09.2008
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