If designers are to succeed in reducing the environmental impacts of products, then they need to demonstrate that the efforts made to reduce the ecological impact do not negatively affect the business, and where possible demonstrate that these efforts have benefited the company financially. This can be achieved in many ways, and the marketing of the product is particularly important. Green labels can be an efficient way of communicating the environmental benefits of a product to the consumer. However, it should be noted that many consumers do not know what they stand for, and so careful marketing of the product may be required to gain any real benefit from Green Labelling. The main Green Labels for non-food products in the UK are outlined below. Detailed information for each label is available from the relevant bodies. Other labels exist to represent similar information in other countries.
The European Eco-label is an official award for non-food products sold within the EU and indicates that efforts have been made to minimise a product’s impact upon the environment. To display the European Eco-Label, a product must be independently certified as meeting all of the criteria set out by the EU. The scheme is run by DEFRA within the UK.
Information about the label is available from DEFRA or the EU at the following web addresses:
European Energy Label
Within the EU it is a legal requirement for manufacturers of many electrical products to indicate the efficiency of their appliances at the point of sale using the European Energy Label in a form similar to that shown here. The label rates the products efficiency from A to G (A being the most efficient) and also displays some technical information about the products energy consumption. The products to which it applies are:
Refrigerators, Freezers & Fridge-freezers;
Washing Machines, Electric Tumble Dryers & Combined Washer Dryers;
As it is compulsory to display this information at the point of sale, manufacturers and designers have an incentive to maximise the performance of the product by the label to help ensure the commercial success of the product.
Energy Efficiency Recommended Logo
The Energy Efficiency Recommended Logo is awarded by the Energy Saving Trust to indicate that a product is one of the most efficient of its kind on the market. It can be applied not only to energy consuming products such as electrical appliances and gas boilers but also to products that save energy such as building insulation and draught proofing products.
Information is available from the Energy Saving Trust at:
The Energy Star indicates that the energy consumption of a product is below an agreed level for the product type when the product is in standby mode. It is a voluntary label that is applicable in both Europe and the USA.
Information is available from:
The Mobius Loop is a widely used symbol to indicate that a product can be recycled or that it is produced using recycled materials. Where a product is recyclable, it is accompanied by an indication of the material type in the form of the material name written in full or abbreviated, and in the case of polymers can also be identified by a polymer identification number as set out below. Where a product is produced from recycled material, the percentage of recycled material contained in the product can be indicated inside or adjacent to the loop.
Polymer identification numbers are listed in the design Guide.
Forest Stewardship Council Mark (FSC)
The Forest Stewardship Council mark assures the consumer that the wood contained in a product originates from forests that meet high environmental, economic and social conditions. All applicable forests are independently inspected, and the FSC mark is widely accepted as being the only reliable assurance that wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests.
Information about the Forest Stewardship Council can be found at:
VOC labels indicate the percentage of Volatile Organic Compounds contained in products such as paints and adhesives. The labels identify the VOC content as LOW, MEDIUM or HIGH. It is a voluntary symbol developed by B&Q and adopted by many manufacturers and retailers. More information is available from B&Q or the British Coatings Federation.