The EU Ecolabel: The role it plays in the
EU's Sustainable Consumption Pledge
The widely adopted EU Ecolabel allows consumers in Europe to buy environmentally conscious products that meet strict and third-party verified criteria. Above all, it plays a crucial role in fulfilling the EU's Sustainable Consumption pledge.
Choosing and promoting EU Ecolabel products makes a real contribution to the biggest environmental challenges of our time identified in the European Green Deal, such as reaching climate neutrality by 2050, shifting to a circular economy and reaching the zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment. By joining or increasing the visibility of the EU Ecolabel scheme, stakeholders can participate in relevant initiatives from the European Commission, such as the Sustainable Consumption Pledge.
This EU initiative launched in 2021 is a part of the New Consumer Agenda, and it invites companies to take a voluntary pledge to support sustainable consumption beyond what is required by law. The pledge is an opportunity for companies with great activity in the EU member states to show the world what important steps they are taking to be more sustainable, as well as an opportunity for consumers to become more aware and choose more sustainably.
By taking the pledge, companies commit to identifying and reducing their carbon footprint by setting clear and measurable targets for the upcoming years. In addition, they commit to at least one more of the following actions: identify and reduce the 'company's environmental footprint (which relates to other environmental indicators than carbon dioxide, such as impacts on water, air, land use and toxicity); increase 'circularity' in its activities (e.g. use more recycled or sustainably-sourced material, generate less waste, lower energy consumption); and respect social sustainability across the company's full supply chain (e.g. ensure sustainable production and labour rights or register their products with social responsibility recognised labels).
One way to pledge and achieve results in terms of reducing the environmental footprint, increasing circularity and as to respecting social sustainability, is through either awarding products with the EU Ecolabel, or increasing the visibility of products already awarded with the EU Ecolabel. Founded in 1992, the EU Ecolabel is the EU's official voluntary ecolabel for environmental excellence, awarded to products (goods and services) that meet the highest environmental standards in their respective product category, ranging from cleaning products to furniture and even holiday accommodations.
For the EU Ecolabel to remain a reputable environmental label in Europe, product criteria are regularly reviewed and updated. While companies that only feign committing to environmental protection targets will not always be legally penalised, the EU Ecolabel singles out those products that do meet strict environmental criteria. Each product complies with a set of science-based environmental criteria established considering the product's full life cycle (from the ingredients entering into its composition, down to its end-of-life disposal). E.g., dishwasher detergents awarded with the EU Ecolabel should not contain substances adversely affecting marine life when discharged into a waterway. The criteria are established through a transparent process involving scientists and experts, and compliance of the products with these criteria is third-party verified. This makes the EU Ecolabel a strong and reliable ecolabel.
Voluntary pledges are powerful to set the direction of the habits we adopt to reach our goals, but like a New Year's resolution, we may often not stick to them, and our good intentions lapse at first sight of temptation. However, accountability mechanisms such as a friend or a visible reminder are effective ways to keep us on track. To ensure the Sustainable consumption pledges do not end up like abandoned resolutions, the European Commission is asking companies to report their progress annually. Boasting an impressive ca. 90,000 products from 24 product categories on the EU Ecolabel's 30th anniversary, the EU Ecolabel is also an effective accountability mechanism that supports the EU's ambition to become climate neutral by 2050. Therefore, pledges of companies having products awarded with the EU Ecolabel are naturally maintained, with the EU Ecolabel being a science-based and visible accountability tool to keep Europe on track towards net-zero.
Together, the EU's Sustainable Consumption Pledge and the EU Ecolabel allow pioneering companies to reaffirm their commitment to preventing waste and pollution, as well as getting the opportunity to market their products to a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers. Conversely, consumers can show companies their increased interest in buying products with a reduced environmental impact.
This year, to celebrate the EU Ecolabel's three decades of support to sustainable consumption, the European Commission launched an EU Ecolabel "Showroom on Wheels". This Showroom rode across six European countries during last summer and shared the EU Ecolabel's mission towards a circular economy and zero pollution, putting citizens on a path towards a greener future and building a more resilient Europe.
By making sustainable alternatives accessible to every EU consumer, the EU Ecolabel enables sustainable consumption and production that may also secure efficiency and productivity gains. This contributes to ensuring that human activities remain within the carrying capacity of the planet, while respecting the rights of future generations.
For more information, see information on the EU Sustainable Consumption Pledges; the EU Ecolabel Product Criteria and the EU Ecolabel Catalogue, where you can find out more about products with the EU Ecolabel that have a real impact.
For general information about the EU Ecolabel:
For information on the European Climate Pact:
All about the Zero Pollution Action Plan: