Saturday, January 31, 2009

European Ecolabel Could Reduce The Number of Chemicals We Use

The European Union's Ecolabel scheme should be beefed up to encourage less use of potentially dangerous chemicals in products, says a report by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC). The environmental label, which is recognisable by its flower logo, is intended to help consumers make greener choices in purchasing many day-to-day use products such as light bulbs, detergents or paper. The report calls for the Ecolabel to be more strict on the chemicals used in the products it endorses. The report comes out just as European leaders are debating the revision of the Ecolabel Regulation.

"It is the ideal time for discussion on a systematic and strategic approach to chemicals within the Ecolabel scheme," said Doreen Fedrigo, EEB's policy unit coordinator. Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, said: "Consumers should be able to trust that products bearing the Ecolabel do not contain substances which are hazardous to health and the environment." The EEB and BEUC said they do not simply want to restrict the use of problematic chemicals in Ecolabelled products. They have proposed that the scheme should question whether a dangerous chemical in a product fulfils an absolutely necessary function, if the design of the product could be adapted to avoid using the chemical, and whether the substance could be substituted for another which is less dangerous. If these are not options, the organisations have called on environmental ministers to use the Ecolabel to encourage restricted use of the dangerous chemicals in the product to ensure it still works as it is designed to, but has fewer risks to health and the environment.

The report can be downloaded at: Ecolabel Report

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