Environmental or 'green' labels give information about the environmental aspects of a product or service. You can use them to highlight a special feature of a product and to differentiate it from your competition. For smaller businesses, this can help you compete against larger organisations by targeting environmentally-aware customers with niche products or services.
Mandatory labelling schemes
Some types of product, such as new household white goods, are legally required to display labels giving details about their energy efficiency.
If you are unsure whether there are any specific labelling schemes for your type of business, contact your trade association for advice.
Voluntary labelling schemes
There are voluntary environmental labelling schemes for almost every type of product, from paper to paints and from cut flowers to cutlery. There are also different kinds of labels covering different issues - eg the Forestry Stewardship Council label on wooden products or the Organic label on food products.
You may also want to apply the EU Ecolabel, the European Union's labelling scheme for consumer products and services.
Choosing a labelling scheme
When considering which environmental labelling scheme to join, you should consider the:
- needs and environmental specifications of your major purchasers
- places your product sell
- sales potential of the label
- public recognition of the label
- label's promotional strategy
- standards, credibility and reputation of the label
- potential costs of applying
- rules of the scheme
To get the most out of an environmental label, you should make sure that all your products display it, and explain what it means. You can either do this on the product itself, in the product advertising, or both.