Eco labelling refers to products /services that are environmentally friendly, and which are advertised as such. They are labelled in a way that informs the interested consumer (Barrow, 2006). The products generally have a reduced impact on the environment, relative to other products of the same kind.
Eco labelling needs to be certified by an independent organisation. Credible labels are awarded by an impartial, unbiased party for products, or services that have met the various environmental criteria (Network,2016). However, some manufacturers of products try to add their own “eco label” as it tends to increase sales within their specific target market. Common claims are that the product is “natural” , “recyclable”, “organically produced” and “energy efficient”. These are unproven and not recognised by the a registered independent organisation. Thus these labels have been termed as “greenwash” (Allison & Carter, 2000).
The International Organisation for Standardisation known as ISO is an internationally recognised organisation which has identified three main types of eco-labelling (Allison & Carter, 2000). Eco-labelling typically falls under Type 1 as explained below.
Type 1 – This label is based on multiple criteria that the product or service must adhere to. A third party organisation awards and issues a certification to the product or service that allows this product /service to use environmental label which illustrates to consumers that the product/service in question is preferred, due to it being environmentally aware and eco-friendly in comparison to other products/services within their particular category. This type of labelling is also known as ISO 14024 (Allison & Carter, 2000).
Type 2 – These types of labels are self declared by the manufacturers or the retailers. Most commonly the consumer will see comments on the product such as “made from x amount of recycled material”. This type of labels falls within ISO 14021 (Allison & Carter, 2000).
Type 3 – Known as an environmental product declaration where the product or service information is based on complete life cycle processes, and the impact it has on the environment. This type of label is referred to as ISO 14025 (Allison & Carter, 2000).
Examples of Eco-labelling, Description and its Origin
Cape Coastal Honey – Eco Label being Badger Friendly
Country of Origin – South Africa
Description of Product – Cape coastal honey is produced with badgers in mind. It promotes badger friendly beehive management and protection in order to comply with the above eco label. The height of the bee hive needs to be altered and be kept out of reach from honey badgers. It is an initiative to conserve these endangered animals which play a vital role within their ecosystem (Van der Merwe, 2014). This eco label is placed on the front of the packaging in order to be visible to the conscious target market. The product is also recyclable which is indicated with the symbol on the back of the packaging.
Light meat Tuna shredded with vegetable oil added – Eco Label being Dolphin Friendly
Country of Origin – Thailand, caught in the Western Pacific Ocean.
Description of Product – Tuna packaged in recyclable tin which is depicted by appropriate logo. As per the logo it is dolphin friendly (Inc,2016). It is managed by the Earth Island Institute which ensures all tuna companies adhere to catching methods that do not harm dolphins including being aware of all marine ecosystems. In order for it to be classified as dolphin friendly, companies need to ensure that no chasing or netting of dolphins takes place during their fishing trip. Companies must not use drift gill nets to catch their tuna, and lastly, no accidental killing or causing harm to the dolphins may occur when setting their nets (Inc,2016).
Organic Liquid Beef Stock – Eco label being Oregon Tilth & USDA Organic
Country of Origin – United States of America
Description of Product – Organic liquid beef stock produced in a cardboard recyclable container. The eco label Oregon Tilth and USDA Organic certifies that the product complies with organic agriculture along with sustainable farming methods. Ensuring farmers and all who are involved in handling and processing of organic food is done so in a manner that complies with the organisation. Farmers need to stick to set regulations, pass random inspection of farms, and maintain a binding contract between farmer and the buyer of the product in question. Farms need to comply with the following process and restrictions as well (Tilth,2016).
- Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
- Support animal health and welfare
- Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviours
- Only use approved materials
- Do not use genetically modified ingredients
- Receive annual onsite inspections
- Separate organic food from non-organic food
Organic Ground Coffee Blend – Eco label being AFRISCO
Country of Origin – South Africa
Description of Product – AFRISCO is the only internationally recognised and accredited South African certifier. It aims at improving the integrity of organic food processes in RSA, as well as other SADC countries. This organisation follows the product from start through to processing and on to distribution, ensuring that companies adhere to all criteria needed in order to be AFRISCO approved. AFRISCO raises awareness and promotes to both local and global producers and consumers, the benefit it has on the environment as well as personal heath choice among the consumers themselves. The coffee is packaged in a foil fresh carton which is recyclable and has a low carbon footprint.
Running Duck Organic White Wine – Eco label being Fair for Life
Country of Origin – South Africa
Description of Product – Fair for life is an unbiased third party certification organisation. It ensures there is ongoing fair trade amongst agricultural, manufacturing and trading operations. It promotes operators to have a responsible project in place which protects the environment, including trying to reduce the impact the company has on the surrounding environment.
As per their website www.fairforlife.org the certification process begins with applying to accredited by the organisation. The interested company would then prepare for auditing to see if they are legible for Fair for Life. Once they are audited, an overall evaluation is done on the company. If the company satisfies their requirements they will be issued their certification which would allow them to present the Fair for Life logo on their product. In order to remain a Fair for Life ambassador, the company would need to continue their compliance of criteria. Should they for some reason they no longer comply, they will no longer be able to host their logo on their product.
The Euro leaf logo is also displayed on this particular bottle of wine. It illustrates that the product has been certified as organic conforming to the regulations of organic farming. It is an internationally recognised logo. During processing of the product it also ensures that 95% of the ingredients are organic (COMM,2013). It is compulsory for all manufacturers who are aligned with the Euro Leaf to place the logo on their product should they continue to comply with their standards.
The Importance of Eco labels
Eco labels give the consumer the power of choice when buying a product. They tend to attract the health conscious, eco mind shopper, whilst allowing the manufacturer to become a “greener” and more environmentally aware company.
Eco labels generally increase the sustainability and environmental awareness. Consumers will tend to purchase products that have official logos and certification attached to the product (International, 2012). Eco labels have the ability to strengthen the brand including the additional promotion of the product.
They also increase the marketing competition between companies driving them towards a more environmentally sustainable products. This has a trickle-down effect which can include the harvesting/cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of products. This will also help weed out any unscrupulous manufacturers.
Hope you have learnt something from my post 🙂 – Fiona