Worldwide Web of Ecolabels

By Linda Chipperfield, Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Linda-colorHave you heard about the Nordic Swan? How about the German Blue Angel or the Eco Mark in Japan? Did you know that there are over 110,000 products and services independently certified as having a reduced environmental footprint, offered by over 12,000 companies worldwide? These certifiers are part of The Global Ecolabelling Network, the worldwide environment’s best kept secret.

The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) is a non-profit association of third-party, environmental performance recognition, certification, and labeling organizations. These are Type-1 ecolabels as defined by the ISO 14024 Standard, Environmental Labels and Declarations – Type I Environmental Labelling – Principles and Procedures. What this means is that the programs are voluntary; they use multiple, life cycle-based environmental criteria; they are transparent in their development process; and they employ independent, third-party verification.GEN Logo 11-2010small

As a board member of GEN, I’ll be reporting from time to time with updates from the 28 ecolabel members and 3 associate members representing 58 countries, but first a little background…

Dr. Arthur Weissman (our CEO) was the founding Chair of GEN in 1994, and helped establish its mission objectives:

  • promoting and developing the ecolabelling of products and services
  • fostering cooperation, information exchange, and harmonization among member programs
  • facilitating access to information about ecolabelling standards globally
  • participating in international organizations to promote ecolabelling
  • encouraging the demand for, and supply of, more environmentally preferable products and services

There were just 6 members back then. Today the organization continues to thrive and grow, with an active website, newsletter, and annual meetings hosted by members worldwide.  The 2012 GEN Annual General Meeting in Rio de Janeiro included workshops on market penetration of labeled products, sustainable public procurement, and cooperation for the creation of regional ecolabels.  Our board is currently participating in projects with ISO, ISEAL, and the United Nations, among others.

Here’s the latest GEN 27 Newsletter.  It contains articles and links to many GEN member sites. Enjoy!

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