Panel advises against UK national ecolabel

Committee calls pass/fail ecolabels "old fashioned," calls for extension of graded energy labels

Creation of a UK ecolabel similar to Germany's Blue Angel would not be the most effective way of reducing the environmental impacts of consumer goods, a British official panel said today. The advisory committee on consumer products and the environment recommended instead developing graded labelling as already required in the EU for rating energy efficiency of some appliances. This model should be extended to cover cars, houses and a broader range of domestic goods, the committee said.

Private ecolabel schemes, which often focus on single product families, can play an important role as well, says the committee, picking out schemes for organic food labelling and the Forest Stewardship Council's label for sustainable timber products.

The report criticises the government for failing to ensure legislative time for passing new rules setting minimum standards for green claims (ENDS Daily 3 August) and urges it to support inclusion of such standards in forthcoming EU proposals on the prevention of misleading advertising.

In the absence of any regulation of green product claims, the committee suggests that a temporary "green claims panel" be established to adjudicate on complaints against specific product claims.

Other recommendations include a requirement that government departments extend green procurement and purchasing policies beyond timber and paper to all product types covered by EU energy labelling - with purchase of products sporting an "A" energy performance rating becoming the standard - and the creation of a high-profile, web-based product information service.

Follow Up:
UK environment ministry, tel: +44 20 79 44 30 00.

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