Eco-labelling: success or failure?
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Eco-labelling was identified in Agenda 21 as a way of encouraging consumers to alter their consumption patterns and to make wiser use of resources and energy in the drive for sustainable development into the next century. A European-wide eco-labelling scheme was introduced by the European Commission (EC) in 1992 as part of its fifth and most recent Environmental Action Plan, the focus of which is also sustainability. The EC eco-labelling scheme aims to promote products with reduced environmental impacts throughout their life cycle and to provide consumers with better information about the environmental impact of products. This paper assesses whether eco-labelling is an effective means of improving the environment, using the eco-labelling of paper products as a case study. Paper products are examined because the development of their ecolabelling criteria has been a particularly complex and contentious issue. Moreover, although criteria have now been adopted for three groups of paper products, controversy has dominated the criteria-setting process and debate continues about the relevance of the selected criteria. It is concluded that while the concept of eco-labelling is good, the practical application of the concept is not straightforward. Furthermore, at present, there is little evidence of eco-labelling benefitting the environment.
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- Eco-labelling: success or failure?
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