Field: Sustainable consumption
Global Technical function: Certifying, Promoting sustainable practices, Responsible purchasing
Technical Function Unit: Labelling, Raising consumer awareness, Sustainability criteria
Geographic Area: Germany
Type of actors: Consumers

A label that says more than a thousand words

The Blue Angel is the first and most well-known eco-label worldwide. Since 1978, it has set the standard for eco-friendly products and services selected by an independent jury in line with defined criteria. The Blue Angel is certifying the companies as form of a reward for their commitment to environmental protection. 

The challenge

Lack of information for consumer and procurers about responsible purchasing.

 

The measure

The purpose of Environmental labelling is clearly defined: It promotes the concerns of both environmental protection and consumer protection. The Blue Angel is therefore awarded to products and services which - from a holistic point of view – commit to promoting sustainable practices and at the same time, comply with sustainability criteria and meet high standards of serviceability, health and occupational protection. Economical use of raw materials during production and use, a long service life and  sustainable disposal are all highly important factors. Consumers can find the Blue Angel eco-label on the product itself while Blue Angel eco-labelled services make it part of their offers.

The Blue Angel is the only climate protection label that evaluates decisive environmental, health and consumer-relevant factors associated with a product or service. An important criterion for awarding the Blue Angel label is considerably lower energy consumption in comparison to conventional products. Additionally, products and services awarded the Blue Angel must also meet high regulations and standards related to environmental and health protection, as well as usability. The holistic approach is what sets the Blue Angel apart from currently established energy labels that only focus on energy consumption during use.

Lessons learnt

The Blue Angel eco-label celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2014(?). During these 35 years it has achieved a lot of environmental and consumer-political successes by raising consumer awareness.

The German Federal Environment Agency and the Environmental Label Jury have used the Blue Angel to identify and categorise(?) environmental and health issues. In doing so, they defined and established requirements and test methods for products that were relatively eco-friendly and less damaging to health than other conventional products. It was, and is, a strong signal to manufacturers and trading companies to develop and market such ecologically beneficial products. Consumers, on the other side, benefitted by being able to orient their buying decisions around the presence of the Blue Angel label and make a conscious decision to opt  for a better alternative. Thus, the Blue Angel eco-label represents an innovative force and reliable orientation for sustainable consumption.

In order to reflect technological progress, the Federal Environment Agency reviews and – if necessary – revises the criteria underlying the label every 3 or 4 years. At the end of this time period, the Federal Environment Agency re-submits the Blue Angel criteria  to the Environmental Label Jury for a decision. This dynamism prompts companies who wish to use the label to introduce product improvements across the board. Some issues associated with products and services have now been regulated by certain directives and legal provisions. These aspects have been removed from the Blue Angel criteria so as to avoid duplication.

The Federal Environment Agency handles new proposals for the Blue Angel free of charge.

Further deployment

The label has been very successful in Germany and now it is already transferred to other areas internationally. Companies promoting the Blue Angel in new markets are supported by the internationally renowned Oeko-Institut. Experts are investigating the potential of this eco-label as an instrument for fostering sustainable consumption at an international level. The first projects have started in the United Kingdom, Turkey and India.

For this reason, the maturity level is estimated to be 9 on the GML scale.

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