Paper manufacturing efficient design and resource use

Paper and cardboard products environmental labels and claims

Guide

Environmental or 'green' labels provide information about the environmental characteristics of products or services. You can use labels and logos to communicate information to your customers.

There are many ecolabels and logos which cover a wide range of environmental impacts across the life cycle of a product or service. Some focus on one environmental aspect, for example recycled content, while others cover several aspects of environmental and social responsibility.

Using an environmental label, logo or claim on your paper product can encourage environmentally responsible customers to choose your product and give you a competitive edge.

Make accurate environmental claims

Environmental labelling is voluntary for paper products. However, if you do choose to make environmental claims, you must be able to justify the claims that you make. If you make a false or misleading claim, Trading Standards or the Advertising Standards Authority could take action against you - see making environmental claims.

Label your products

Before you can use an environmental label or logo on your product, you must meet the criteria for that scheme. You will need to apply to the body or organisation running the scheme and they must accept your product into the scheme before you display the label or logo on your product.

There are lots of different labelling schemes, so several may be suitable for your product. You should assess the schemes to identify the one that best suits your product and your business needs.

The following independently certified schemes are relevant to paper and cardboard products:

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • European Ecolabel

If you want to join a scheme, your product must meet strict levels of environmental performance and will need to be independently certified.

There are also national schemes, which are available globally, including: Nordic Swan (Scandinavia), Blue Angel (Germany), Environmentally Friendly (Croatia), Good Environmental Choice (Sweden), Environmentally Friendly Products (Czech Republic).

Use recycled content labels

You can use recognised logos to identify the recycled content of products and packaging, and to inform users how the products and packaging can be recycled. These include:

  • Mobius loop
  • Recycle Now logo
  • National Association of Paper Merchants approved recycled marks

Before you use these or any other logos or labels, you must make sure that you comply with all rules on their use. Find green claims guidance on the GOV.UK website.

Specifications for marking recycled paperboard are set out in British Standard BS 7500: 1995. Buy copies of British Standard BS 7500 1995 on the British Standards Institution (BSI) website.

Use British Standards for environmental labels and claims

You may also find the following British Standards useful:

  • BS EN ISO 14020: 2001 - Environmental labels and declarations - General principles
  • BS EN ISO 14024: 2001 - Environmental labels and declarations - Type I environmental labelling, principles and procedures
  • BS EN ISO 14021: 2001 - Environmental labels and declarations - Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling)
  • BS EN ISO 14025: 2010 - Environmental labels and declarations - Type III environmental declarations, principles and procedures

Buy standards or view summaries on the BSI website.