“Climate Angel” label provides more transparency for shoppers
Private consumption makes substantial contributions to climate-relevant greenhouse gas emissions. The largest shares stem from the residential sector, mobility and food, followed by household energy uses like cooling, cooking, washing, communications and home entertainment.
Alongside power consumption, private consumption in Germany also involves considerable material and resource consumption globally. As a result, increasing numbers of consumers want to shop more conscientiously and look for particularly energy-saving, environmentally friendly and healthy products and in the best case ones which have been produced socially responsibly, too. Products and services given the “Blue Angel” label fulfill criteria which protect the environment.
Depending on which protection goal is the top priority in each case, the product is assigned one of the following four bylines: “conserves resources”, “protects the environment and health”, “protects water” and “protects the environment”. Oeko-Institut is supporting this new emphasis on climate protection with its research project “Top 100 – Eco-label for climate-friendly products”.
Top 100 – Eco-label for climate-friendly products
In the Top 100 research project, Oeko-Institut is identifying for the first time the 100 most important products in terms of private energy consumption. These include boilers, solar installations, wood fuels, insulating materials, light-bulbs, televisions, computers, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, and espresso machines.
For these product groups the researchers at Oeko-Institut are developing criteria for distinguishing particularly climate-friendly products. Besides power consumption, other important environmental and sustainability aspects are covered, including environmentally compatible production, the absence of harmful substances, health protection and occupational safety, and how easy they are to repair or recycle. As a result, the requirements for the “Climate Angel” (“Der Klimaengel”) label go beyond those of labels based solely on efficiency like the EU Energy Label or the Energy Star.
On the project website www.oekotop100.de consumers can find the Blue Angel criteria for the 100 products and services of private consumption that are the most relevant to climate protection.
The project, which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, is part of Germany’s Climate Initiative. By expanding the “Blue Angel” label to include new product groups that are particularly relevant to the climate as well as adding the words “Protects the climate” (“Schützt das Klima”) to the logo, the positioning of products of high quality ecologically is further improved within the market.
Life-cycle costs and benefits of products are determined
The basis for developing these criteria is in each case a sustainability analysis using the PROSA (Product Sustainability Assessment) methodology developed by Oeko-Institut. Based on a market analysis, PROSA comprises a simplified life-cycle assessment of a representative product, and calculation of typical life-cycle costs and benefits for the product group. Along the product life-cycle, aspects of sustainability are examined, the particular “hot spots” of the product are identified and award criteria derived.
Award procedure of the eco-label
In the project Oeko-Institut worked in close cooperation with the German Environment Protection Agency and RAL gGmbH, the body entrusted with awarding the label within Germany. Following a transparent stakeholder process, the criteria developed by Oeko-Institut are subsequently submitted to the independent jury for implementation as award criteria for the “Blue Angel”. Two additional institutes – ifeu and ökopol –also participated in the development of award criteria for the label.
Significance of the eco-label for the market
The development of product criteria for the eco-label has an important effect which goes beyond the labelling of specific products:
- The eco-label anticipates legal regulations and tests their usability on the market. For example, putting the German “Blue Angel” label on CFC-free spray cans at the end of the 1970s pre-empted the German regulation on the prohibition of the use of CFC and halogenated hydrocarbons.
- Based on the catalogue of product criteria, top runner products are selected which can be promoted within the scope of reward programmes for particularly energy-efficient products or through information campaigns like Oeko-Institut’s EcoTopTen.
- The high energy efficiency of products awarded the eco-label sets standards for the development of European eco-design requirements. On the EU level minimum standards are being fixed for products which are allowed to be distributed within the European Economic Area.
- The award criteria for the label are frequently utilised for private and public procurement. Manufacturers have to develop their products in accordance with the requirements of the eco-label in order to serve this market.