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Environmental labels

and declarations
How ISO
standards help
a

How green is green ?

These days we are all trying to be Fortunately, there are International


more environmentally conscious, Standards aimed at taking the com-
particularly at the supermarket. plex world of environmental science
The problem is knowing what to and reducing it to a simple set of
buy in order to make a real differ- rules and guidelines for how the
ence, especially when you hear environmental aspects of a product
so much about “ green-washing ”, can legitimately be represented on
with manufacturers making out that a consumer label or in a declara-
products are better for the environ- tion. When applied by manufactur-
ment, when there are no discernible ers and ecolabelling practitioners,
improvements. You buy the brand these internationally agreed stand-
of laundry detergent that is labelled ards ensure that the consumer is
as being “ clean, green and phos- only being given valid purchasing
phate-free ” only to discover that information, without any “ green-
phosphates haven’t been used in washing ”. This applies whether
any detergents for the last 20 years. the claim is made through a seal
So why’s this product being made of approval type of system, or in a
out to be so clean and green ? claim made by a manufacturer.

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 1


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ISO in brief

ISO has a membership of 164* technologies, the environment,


national standards bodies from energy, quality management, con-
countries large and small, industri- formity assessment and services.
alized, developing and in transition, ISO only develops standards for
in all regions of the world. which there is a clear market
ISO’s por tfolio of over 19 400* requirement. The work is carried
standards provides business, gov- out by experts in the subject, drawn
ernment and society with practi- directly from the industrial, techni-
cal tools for all three dimensions cal and business sectors that have
of sustainable development : eco- identified the need for the stand-
nomic, environmental and social. ard, and which subsequently put
the standard to use. These experts
ISO standards make a positive may be joined by others with rel-
contribution to the world we live evant knowledge, such as repre-
in. They facilitate trade, spread sentatives of government agencies,
knowledge, disseminate innovative testing laboratories, consumer
advances in technology, and share associations and academia, and
good management and conformity by international governmental and
assessment practices. nongovernmental organizations.
ISO standards provide solutions An ISO International Standard rep-
and achieve benefi ts for almost all resents a global consensus on the
sectors of activity, including agri- state of the art in the subject of that
culture, construction, mechanical standard.
engineering, manufacturing, distri-
bution, transport, medical devices,
information and communication * October 2012.

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Acknowledgements

ISO gratefully acknowledges the dedicated work of :

• Mr. Bill Dee, Mr. John Henry, • Mr. Sven-Olof Ryding who is


Mr. John Lawrance and the principal author of the sec-
Mr. John Swift who are the tion on Type III labelling.
principal authors of the section
This document has been devel-
on Type II labelling.
oped by the above authors, edited
• The Global Ecolabelling and published by ISO. It is strictly
Network who are the principal an information document and in
authors of the section on Type no way represents the consensus
I labelling. views contained in ISO standards
and other ISO deliverables.

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 3


Contents
How green is green ?................................................................ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
ISO in brief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Acknowledgements................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Self-declared environmental claims : ISO 14021:1999, Environmental
labels and declarations – Self-declared environmental claims
(Type II environmental labelling) ................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Who should use this standard ................................................ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Requirements for all self-declared environmental claims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Evaluation and claim verification requirements ............... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Specific requirements for selected claims ......................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Application to emerging issues............................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
What effects and impact will ISO 14021 have ? ............. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Ecolabelling schemes : ISO 14024:1999, Environmental labels
and declarations – Type I environmental labelling – Principles
and procedures . . . . . . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Why have the standard ?........................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
What is the standard about ? .................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Ecolabelling schemes and the role of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) . . . . . . 20
Life-cycle data declarations : ISO 14025:2006, Environmental labels
and declarations – Type III environmental declarations – Principles
and procedures ................................................................................................................................. 21
Who should use this standard ? .................................................................................................... 21
What is the standard about ? .......................................................................................................... 21
Credibility, transparency and openness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Single-issue Type III environmental declarations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Climate declarations as a source of consumer-oriented
carbon footprint information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Summing up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
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Introduction

The ISO 14020 series of standards a virtue out of necessity, by pro-


provides businesses with a globally moting the environmental features
recognized and credible set of inter- of their products. Getting a mar-
national benchmarks against which ket benefi t through environmental
they can prepare their environmen- labelling makes sense, particularly
tal labelling, which is increasingly where companies have made the
used on products and in adver- i nve s t m e n t i n e nv i r o n m e n t a l
tising, in response to consumer improvement and putting environ-
demand. mental management systems in
With the relentless focus on cli-
place. Environmental la
mate change and health, consum-
ers are becoming more interested
and declarations
People are understandably eager
to “ do their bit ” for the environ-
in less tangible product attributes
such as the ethical and environ-
ment, and are more and more
How ISO s
inclined to favour products that

help
mental aspects of a product’s pro- seem likely to do the least dam-
duction and supply. In response to age to it. Manufacturers, sensing
this, manufacturers often voluntarily increased business, may be keen
choose to provide information con- to encourage this interest by mark-
cerning the environmental aspects ing their products or packaging
of their products on labelling and in to reassure consumers that their
advertising. products cause less stress on the
environment.
In short, the environmental ben-
efits of a company’s products, such How much real value attaches to
as recyclability of packaging, are such claims and marks is a con-
part of its overall marketing strat- cern, and surveys worldwide have
egy. Smart businesses are making shown that some environmental

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 5


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labelling can leave a lot to be Consumers have the power to


desired. Such labelling may be sci- stimulate manufacturers to innovate
entifically inaccurate or, even when because manufacturers may hope
accurate, confusing to the con- that improved environmental perfor-
sumer. In addition, it is not uncom- mance communicated to consum-
mon to see reassuring phrases on ers means increased market share.
products such as “ made with care However, if consumers are con-
for the environment ” without any fused to the point where they can-
further information as to the real not distinguish between competing
impact the product has. products in terms of environmental
performance, they are unable to
Does any of this matter ? Well,
express preferences through their
consumers can only express their
purchases.
preferences through their purchas-
ing decisions if they have access to If it makes no difference in terms
accurate, comparable information. of product sales whether an

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environmental claim accurately At the start of its work, the ISO


reflects genuine improved environ- subcommittee responsible for the
mental performance, or is just a development classified different
repackaging of existing products types of labelling by type number.
with a “ green gloss ” on the mar- The two main types already in exist-
keting campaign, what incentive is ence were :
there for companies to innovate ? • The “ classic ” ecolabelling
Further, those producers who do schemes, which award a mark
improve their environmental per- or a logo based on the fulfil-
ment of a set of criteria – these
formance are entitled to be reas-
were identifi ed as Type I envi-
sured that they can accurately pass
ronmental labelling
this information on to consumers
without being undermined by com- • Claims which were made
petitors seeking to gain the same by manufacturers and busi-
nesses, and could be seen as
commercial advantage without
being “ self-declared ” – these
doing anything to improve perfor-
were identifi ed as Type II
mance. In short, there needs to be
self-declared environmental
a level playing field. claims
These basic issues have been rec-
ognized worldwide for a number of In addition, however, it was recog-
years and they have been the sub- nized that a third type was start-
ject of many reports. ISO was not ing to emerge which consisted of
slow to see this issue as part of the a formalized set of environmental
broader sustainable development data describing the environmental
agenda. As part of the ISO 14000 aspects of a product. These dec-
series of environmental manage- larations were identified as Type III
ment standards, the ISO 14020 environmental declarations.
series deals specif ically with
aspects of environmental labels
and declarations. (For an introduc-
tion, those interested are directed
to ISO 14020:2000, Environmental
labels and declarations – General
principles).

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 7


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Self-declared environmental claims :


ISO 14021:1999, Environmental labels and declarations
– Self-declared environmental claims
(Type II environmental labelling)

Who should use this standard are making environmental claims on


their products. It is also an essen-
ISO 14021 is extremely wide in its
tial reference for advertisers who
application. It deals with all envi-
ronmental claims voluntarily made
for products. While self-declared
claims are often made on products
and/or their packaging, they are
not restricted to on-pack claims,
but include all environmental claims
however they are made, for exam-
ple, in advertising, on the Internet or
in trade reports.
In addition, ISO 14021 does not just
deal with claims made for products,
but encompasses claims made for
services, for instance, environmen-
tal claims for tourist services or
banking ; all are within the ambit of
the standard.
This standard is a critical tool for
manufacturers and businesses who

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 9


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are making environmental claims in • Prevention or minimization of


their advertisements. unwarranted claims
• Reduction in marketplace
Introduction confusion
ISO 14021:1999 is the International • Facilitation of international trade
Standard that deals with so-called • Increased opportunity for con-
self-declared claims. It states that sumers to make more informed
the overall goal of environmental choices
labels and declarations is, through
the communication of verifiable, There are three key elements to
accurate information that is not mis- ISO 14021 concerning require-
leading, to encourage the demand ments for claims. These give the
for, and supply of, products which basic rules for the making of envi-
cause less stress on the envi- ronmental claims.
ronment, thereby stimulating the
• Use of symbols. This deals
potential for market-driven, contin-
with the fact that many claims
ual environmental improvement.
for products are made not just
ISO 14021 does not require that with the use of text, but also by
environmental claims should be the use of pictures, symbols or
made. Rather, it addresses the logos
issue that if a claim is made, how • Evaluation and claim verifica-
can it be made in a way which is tion requirements. Essentially
meaningful and useful to a con- this requires that claims must
sumer. The objectives of ISO 14021 be verifi ed before they are
are stated to be the harmonization made, and that this information
of the use of self-declared environ- must be available on request to
mental claims with the following any person
anticipated benefits : • Specific requirements for
• Accurate and verifiable envi- selected claims. This rec-
ronmental claims that are not ognizes that some claims are
misleading used more frequently than
others (e.g. recyclable or bio-
• Increased potential for market
degradable), and provides for
forces to stimulate environmen-
tal improvements

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specific requirements in the use requirement that environmental


of such claims claims shall be accurate and not
misleading.

Requirements for all self- The standard also states that


declared environmental claims vague or non-specific claims,
which broadly imply some environ-
The basic requirements for all mental benefi t, shall not be used.
claims are that they shall be : Examples of such claims include
• Accurate and not misleading “ environmentally friendly ”, “ green ”,
“ nature’s friend ”.
• Substantiated and verified
• Unlikely to result in Claims of “ sustainability ” generally
misinterpretation fall into this category. Whichever
definition of “ sustainability ” is used,
we are still some way off having
internationally agreed benchmarks
for the minimum economic, social
and environmental performance
that would indicate a product
had been manufactured in a truly
“ sustainable ” manner. The 2011
amendment refers to the stand-
ard ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on
social responsibility, but reinforces
the requirement in the 1999 text
that self-declared claims of achiev-
ing sustainability shall not be made.

ISO 14021 also deals with the use


There are a number of requirements
of symbols to make environmen-
setting out the general rules for the
tal claims. There are two specifi c
making of self-declared environ-
aspects to this :
mental claims. The language used
in the drafting of the standard is • General requirements
prescriptive and does not allow for
any latitude, as shown by the core • Möbius loop

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 11


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The International Standard applies The standard makes it clear that


exactly the same rules to the use of the primary responsibility to ensure
symbols as to the use of text. This a claim is accurate resides with the
is an important point of principle. person making the claim. Effectively,
the person making a claim must
It was recognized that pictures,
have the information necessary to
symbols and logos are routinely
verify it before it is made. Further,
used to convey a message about
this information must be kept for
the environmental attributes of a
a reasonable period, testing must
product. Potentially, such images
use accepted test methods and the
could be even more ambiguous
information must be disclosed to any
than text. It was felt, therefore, that
person who wants it.
the only proper way of dealing with
this matter was to make no distinc- This information includes :
tion between the use of text and the • Identification of test method
use of symbols. used
Essentially, therefore, any logo or • Documentary evidence if claim
image used to convey an environ- cannot be verifi ed by end-prod-
mental message shall comply with uct testing
the basic rules referred to above, • Test results
and shall be unlikely to result in mis-
interpretation or be misleading. • Name and address of inde-
pendent party if used to evalu-
ate claim
Evaluation and claim
verification requirements In fact, the standard goes further
ISO 14021 deals with evaluation and says that if a claim can only be
and claim verification requirements verified using confidential business
and has four key elements : information, then the claim must not
be made.
• Responsibility of the claimant
The standard does not describe
• Evaluation of comparative
particular test methods ; the onus is
claims
on the person making the claim to
• Methods used be able to verify it before the claim
• Access to information is made. However, the standard

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does state that where internationally Application to emerging


agreed test methods exist, these issues
must be used.
N e w e nv i ro n m e n t a l l a b e l l i n g
approaches are constantly emerg-
Specific requirements for ing, such as the use of the term
selected claims “ food miles ” or similar. The envi-
The fi nal element of the standard ronmental aspects associated
is the specific requirements for with transporting products should
selected claims, for instance : certainly be taken into considera-
tion, but ISO 14021 states that the
• Degradable
impacts across all phases of the life
• Recyclable cycle should be considered together,
• Recycled content so that low CO2-emissions during
• Reduced energy/water the transport phase are not used to
consumption mask a higher overall burden due to
high production emissions.
The standard published in 1999 set
specific rules on the usage of the
term, qualifications and evaluation What effects and impact will
methodology and, as appropriate, ISO 14021 have ?
gave guidance on 15 commonly used A huge amount of work went into
claims. the development and updating of
The amendment published in 2011 this standard over many years. The
to reflect marketplace develop- range of stakeholders that par-
ments, added the usage of the ticipated in its development adds
following terms, qualifi cations and greatly to its credibility and included
evaluation methodology : developed and developing coun-
tries, business, consumer groups,
• Renewable material
environmental groups, regulatory
• Renewable energy agencies, government depar t-
• Sustainable ments. The fact that consensus was
• Claims relating to greenhouse achieved adds greatly to its cred-
gas emissions ibility, and the result should be a
• Product “ Carbon footprint ” marketplace where consumers can
• “ Carbon neutral ” exercise better informed choice.

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 13


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Ecolabelling schemes :
ISO 14024:1999, Environmental labels and declarations – Type I
environmental labelling – Principles and procedures

Why have the standard ? techniques such as ecolabelling to


differentiate their products. Firms
Ecolabels are intended to educate
may be motivated by gaining extra
and increase consumer awareness
market share, improving their pub-
of the environmental impacts of a
product and bring about environ-
Environmental la
lic image or pre-empting mandatory

mental protection by encouraging


labelling requirements.
and declarations
How ISO s
consumers to buy products with a
lower environmental impact. What is the standard about ?
This International Standard estab-

help
Consumers’ purchasing decisions
can provide a market signal to lishes the principles and procedures
producers about product prefer- for developing Type I environmental
ences. Under effective ecolabel- labelling programmes, including the
ling regimes, producers and sellers selection of product categories,
have an incentive to compete to product environmental criteria and
improve the products, perhaps by product function characteristics ;
changing inputs or adopting dif- and for assessing and demonstrat-
ferent technologies to lower the ing compliance. The standard also
environmental burden of the prod- establishes the certification proce-
uct. Producers of environmentally dures for awarding the label.
superior products have an incen- Type I environmental labelling refers
tive to use environmental marketing to the multi-criteria, life-cycle seals

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 15


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of approval, commonly known as • Product environmental criteria


“ ecolabelling ”. ISO 14024 pro- need to be established to dif-
vides the requirements for operat- ferentiate environmentally pref-
ing an ecolabelling scheme, like erable products from others
the Nordic Swan or the Japanese in the product category when
Eco-Mark. The standard has been these differences are significant
adopted as a benchmark by the
Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), Product environmental crite-
the international federation of ecola- ria are based on indicators arising
belling bodies. It provides the rules from life-cycle considerations and
to overcome some of the past criti- are required to be set at attainable
cisms of ecolabelling and provides levels and give consideration to rel-
guidance for new schemes under ative environmental impacts, meas-
development. urement capability and accuracy.
The period of validity of the pro-
The principles of this standard
gramme requires that the product
include the following stipulations :
• Environmental labelling pro-
grammes should be voluntary
• Compliance with environmental
and other relevant legislation is
required
• The whole product life cycle
must be taken into consid-
eration when setting product
environmental criteria, e.g.
extraction of resources, manu-
facturing, distribution, use and
disposal relating to relevant
cross-media environmental
indicators. Any departure from
this comprehensive approach
or selective use of restricted
environmental issues has to be
justified

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environmental criteria and prod- All the elements in the product


uct function requirements for each environmental criteria and prod-
product category need to be set uct function characteristics of the
for a predefined period after which environmental labelling programme
there should be a review which need to be verifiable by the ecola-
takes account of factors such as belling body using standards sug-
new technologies, new products, gested in ISO 14024.
new environmental information and
market changes. Type I environmental labelling pro-
grammes need to be able to dem-
The standard requires that a process
onstrate transparency through all
of formal open participation among
stages of their development and
interested parties be established at
the outset for the purpose of select- operation. Transparency implies
ing and reviewing product categories, that information is available to inter-
product environmental criteria and ested parties for inspection and
product function characteristics. comment where appropriate. This
information includes :
• Selection of product categories
• Selection and development of
product environmental criteria
• Product function characteristics
• Testing and verification
methods
• Certification and award
procedures
• Review period
• Period of validity
• Non-confidential evidence
based on which the label has
been awarded
• Funding sources for pro-
gramme development

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 17


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Mutual recognition of tests,


inspections, conformity assessment,
administrative procedures and,
where appropriate, product environ-
mental criteria, is encouraged.

To ensure full transparency, informa-


(e.g. fees, government financial tion on existing mutual recognition
support) agreements with other ecolabelling
• Compliance verification bodies is to be made available.

The standard stipulates that a study


Procedures and requirements for should be conducted to consider
environmental labelling programmes the feasibility of establishing the
cannot be prepared, adopted or product categories and lists what
applied with a view to, or with the should be considered in the study.
effect of, creating unnecessary Once a feasibility study has been
obstacles to international trade. completed, the ecolabelling body
All applicants who fulfil the product is then in a position to ascertain
environmental criteria for a given which product categories are most
product category and the other likely to obtain marketplace accept-
programme requirements, are enti- ance. A product category proposal
needs to be prepared for the inter-
tled to be granted a licence and
ested parties which summarizes the
authorized to use the label.
components of the feasibility study,
The development and selection of its findings, and the considerations
criteria are to be based on sound leading to the proposal of product
scientific and engineering princi- categories for the programme.
ples and derived from data that
support the claim of environmental The Selection of product envi-
ronmental criteria is intended to
preferability.
provide uniformity while allowing
Type I environmental labelling pro- decisions on the final criteria to be
grammes are to be free from undue the result of the consultation pro-
influence and be able to demon- cess between the ecolabelling body
strate that sources of funding do not and interested parties. The matrix
create a conflict of interest. in the standard links the stages of

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the product life cycle with the major of minimum values, threshold
environmental input and output levels not to be exceeded, a
indicators. scale-point system or other
relevant and appropriate
The standard sets out the process
approaches
for establishing the product envi-
ronmental criteria which take into • Provide a reference to the test
account relevant local, regional and methods that are required for
global environmental issues, available any given criterion or char-
technology, and economic aspects. acteristic, and examine the
availability of competent labo-
The standard suggests that the ratories capable of performing
ecolabelling body needs to : the tests. Testing and verifica-
• Identify the product life-cycle tion requirements should be
stages where there is differenti- considered in parallel with the
ation of environmental impacts preparation of requirements for
among the products within a given product category
the category. The ranges and
variability of the data obtained The standard states that in the
for specific products need to selection of the product function
be analysed to ensure that the characteristics, due consideration
selected product environmen- needs to be given to the product
tal criteria are adequate and function.
refl ect the differences among
products Once the product categories, prod-
uct environmental criteria and prod-
• Consider it proper to apply
uct function characteristics have
weighting factors to the
been established, they need to be
selected environmental require-
published. The selected report for-
ments with reasons for each
mat is to be accompanied by infor-
weighting factor being clearly
explained and justified mation specified in the standard.

• Determine the criteria that most In cases where the label has
accurately refl ect the selected already been awarded to products,
environmental aspects and there are a number of factors which
then assign numerical values to the standard sets out and which
them which could take the form should be considered.

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 19


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General rules covered in the stand- means that they developed envi-
ard control the general conditions ronmental standards against which
for the awarding of the licence and products can be certified. The
the use of the label. Procedures for standards themselves are designed
assessing and demonstrating com- to identify environmental leadership
pliance are also covered. in any given product category, and
are developed in an open, pub-
lic, transparent process. In many
Ecolabelling schemes and the
cases, certifi cation to a particular
role of the Global Ecolabelling
standard is audited by an inde-
Network (GEN)
pendent third party. Although cri-
Established in 1994, the Global teria differ based on the product
Ecolabelling Network is a non- category, standards will address
profi t association of Type I ecola- multiple environmental attributes
belling organizations around the and have requirements for items
world. There are GEN member pro- such as toxicity, air quality, energy
grammes operating in well over 50 use, recyclability, VOCs, carcino-
countries : they work to improve, gens and other issues of concern.
promote and develop the ecola- Life-cycle assessment is often used
belling of products and services by GEN members in developing
on a global scale. GEN fosters standards to ensure that environ-
information exchange amongst its mental aspects of the entire life
members and associates, the dis- cycle of the product or service,
semination of information to the from raw material extraction, to use
public, the cooperation and col- and disposal, are considered.
laboration among its members and
Type I products have the capacity
like-minded organizations, in addi-
to change the market, especially
tion to facilitating the harmonization
with, for example, the support of
of Type I ecolabelling programmes
green procurement initiatives by
around the world.
governments in many countries.
Members of GEN operate Type
I ecolabelling programmes. This

20 Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help


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Life-cycle data declarations :


ISO 14025:2006, Environmental labels and declarations – Type III
environmental declarations – Principles and procedures

Who should use this objective evaluation of the Type III


standard ? information.

Type III environmental declarations


are of growing importance in busi- What is the standard about ?
ness-to-business commerce. The ISO 14025 establishes principles
fact that the standard and the tech- and specifies procedures for issuing
nical report that preceded it were quantified environmental information
developed in parallel with the emer- about products, based on life-cycle
gence and refi nement of this new data referred to as environmental
approach has allowed ISO to play a declarations. A Type III environmen-
key guiding role. tal declaration can be described
This type of evaluation is not easily as : quantified environmental data
dealt with as one walks down the for a product with pre-set catego-
aisle of the supermarket and Type ries of parameters based on the
III declarations have proven to have ISO 14040 series of standards, but
limited application to the consumer not excluding additional environmen-
market. tal information.
However, a commercial enter- Type III environmental declarations
prise will often have specifi c envi- present the environmental per-
ronmental targets embedded in formance of a product to enable
its purchasing policy, allowing for objective comparisons between

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 21


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products fulfilling the same function. meet various information needs


Such declarations : within the supply chain and for end
• Are based on independently products in both the private and
verifi ed life-cycle assessment public sectors, as well as for more
(LCA) data, life-cycle inventory general purposes in information
analysis (LCI) data, converted activities and marketing.
LCI data to refl ect the life-cycle
impact assessment (LCIA) of a Credibility, transparency
product or information mod- and openness
ules in accordance with the
ISO 14040 series of standards Type III environmental declara-
and, where relevant, additional tions developed by organizations
environmental information are subject to major stakeholder
• Are developed using predeter- review processes and then pub-
mined parameters lished in the public domain by
countr y-based registrars. This
• Are subject to the administra-
supports consistency within an
tion of a programme operator,
such as a company or a group industry and enables comparison
of companies, industrial sector of products via the use of Type III
or trade association, public environmental declarations. There
authorities or agencies, or an are several market applications for
independent scientific body or Type III environmental declarations,
other organization e.g. for different types of reporting
and internal product development
The output is known as the dec- work. One primary application of
laration which has the objective to a Type III environmental declara-
communicate environmental per- tion is to assist purchasers in green
formance within clearly defined procurement where they need
and classifi ed product categories to make informed comparisons
and service types. The system b e t we e n s e p a r a te p ro d u c t s.
approach covers separate products Environmental declarations accord-
and services, as well as complete ing to ISO 14025 are probably the
or partial assortments of products only internationally recognized tool
and services. A Type III environ- enabling such a comparison to be
mental declaration is designed to carried out. In most cases, this is

22 Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help


a

exactly what is needed from a pro- development of PCR follows a strict


curement point of view in making procedure, including a multi-phase
fair selections among different bids. approach for initiation, preparation,
consultation, approval and publica-
To be able to fulfil high market
tion, and updating.
expectations for a number of prac-
tical applications, Type III environ-
mental declarations must comply Single-issue Type III
with specific and strict methodolog- environmental declarations
ical prerequisites. These expec- Information from Type III environ-
tations include the possibility to mental declarations is sometimes
sum LCA-based information in felt to be too specific and detailed,
the supply chain and to compare as it covers many familiar environ-
the information in different Type mental impacts from the perspec-
III environmental declarations. To tive of the life cycle of a product. It
achieve this goal, Type III environ- is, therefore, important that Type III
mental declarations are constituted environmental declaration informa-
in accordance with common and tion is fl exible enough to allow for
harmonized calculation rules to adaptation to specifi c user needs
ensure that Type III environmental
declarations prepared by different
organizations in the same product
category, use the same scope of
data and metrics. However, groups
of products usually differ in their
inherent environmental per for-
mance, requiring specifi c calcula-
tion rules for the product group,
the so-called Product Category
Rules, PCR. PCR contain specifi c
instructions detailing LCA-based
data collection methods for differ-
ent product groups, conversion of
the collected data to the pre-set
indicators, and the format for pres- Example of
entation of the information. The a climate declaration

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 23


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and market applications. One such Climate declarations as a


approach is the concept of so- source of consumer-oriented
called single-issue Type III environ- carbon footprint information
mental declarations. A single-issue
Type III environmental declaration The market demand for information
can, for instance, extract the infor- on the climate impact of products
mation in a Type III environmen- and services is constantly grow-
tal declaration related to climate ing. Over the past few years, differ-
change by describing the green- ent stakeholders have stressed the
house gas emissions in terms of need to find scientifically valid and
CO2-equivalents to become a cli- relevant information on the climate
mate declaration. As climate dec- performance of goods and services,
larations are based on the same not neglecting private consumers.
principles as Type III environmental However, behind any simple envi-
declarations, they give recognition ronmental claim, there is a complex
to the information as being objec- world of science-based assump-
tive and covering the full life cycle. tions and facts. It is, therefore, of
They also give credibility because vital importance that any concept for
of the compulsory requirement for carbon footprint information intro-
independent third-party verification. duced on the market be indisputable
An example of a climate declaration and correct from the very beginning.
is given above.
A number of challenges must be
Other possible applications of sin- overcome to be able to convey a
gle-issue Type III environmental fairly simple and understandable
declarations could be a eutrophica- message about the climate perfor-
tion declaration, summing up the mance/carbon footprint of a prod-
environmental impact of nutrient- uct in a life-cycle perspective. One
enrichment of lakes and coastal such approach is given on the pre-
areas, or a recycling declaration,
ceding page.
describing various ways to recy-
cle used materials as inputs in the
manufacturing of new products.

24 Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help


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Summing up • As ISO standards, they have


global recognition
Any businesses involved in improv-
ing the environmental aspects of • They have the legitimacy that
their products and services should comes from being drafted by a
consider using the appropriate diverse range of stakeholders
standard from the above suite of • They represent objectively
standards. Reasons for using these agreed benchmarks that cre-
standards are : ate a level playing fi eld for the
dissemination of environmental
information

Environmental labelling and declarations – How ISO standards help 25


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