EU Ecolabel for screens and paper gets more ambitious
Here is some good news for increasingly eco-conscious European consumers: the EU just made the Ecolabel more ambitious for electronic displays and stationery and printed paper. It means that the flower logo will signpost TV sets, computer monitors, notepads, books and envelopes that go the extra mile to respect the environment. How exactly?
Electronic displays will become:
- Less energy guzzling: only the top energy efficiency classes will be allowed to display the EU Ecolabel and there will be maximum energy consumption limits.
- More durable: items will be easier to repair thanks to requirements on product design, repair manuals, and availability of spare parts. Such requirements are more ambitious than the current mandatory rules.
- Less polluting: to limit the amount of waste ending up in landfill, manufacturers will have to take extra steps to make their products easier to dismantle and recycle. A minimum recycled content has also been set.
- Less toxic: the Ecolabel will reward products with limited amounts of hazardous substances, such as plasticisers, flame retardants and substances of very high concern.
- More climate friendly: the label will reward manufacturers’ efforts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
- More socially responsible: the labour conditions of workers manufacturing Ecolabel products will be in line with the International Labour Organization’s conventions and complemented by additional provisions. Metals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from conflict-affected and high-risk areas will have to be sourced responsibly.
While consumers could find Ecolabelled TVs five years ago, over time companies have ceased to display the label on these products. Now that the 2009 criteria have been updated to better reflect innovation and environmental impacts, we expect that manufacturers will seek the Ecolabel certification to support their sustainability credentials.
The environmental performance of Ecolabelled stationery will be boosted thanks to:
- Sustainable material: paper will come from sustainably managed forests or recycled materials.
- Greener manufacturing: the label will indicate more energy-efficient processes, less waste and emissions generated during the production of the paper product and the printing process.
- Fewer hazardous substances: the label will promote the use of more environmentally friendly substances – such as inks – and reduced emissions of organic volatile compounds1 – such as methane, benzene, xylene, propane – in the production process. This will benefit workers and the environment. The potential presence of hazardous substances will be restricted in the final product, which is good news for consumers and end-of-life recyclers.
- More circularity: paper products will be designed to be more recyclable, contributing to a more circular economy.
Companies applying for the first time will have to meet these newly adopted criteria. Existing licence-holders will benefit from an 18-month transition period to bring their products in line with the new criteria.
BEUC and the European Environmental Bureau have long been advocating for stricter Ecolabel criteria for these two product groups, and continue to work towards improving many more. The number of EU Ecolabel products has been on the rise over recent years, and has kept growing throughout 2020. Over 5,000 new licences have been awarded this year despite the dramatic economic activity slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you wish to learn more about the new criteria, the EU Commission is organising public webinars soon:
- electronic displays on 9 December (10:00 – 11:15). Register here. (See factsheet here)
- stationery and printed paper 10 December (10:00-11:15). Register here. (See factsheet here)
1. See the European Environment Agency’s page on volatile organic compounds.