This report from the World Resources Institute looks behind the scenes at the green claims of more than 300 eco-labels.
From the introduction to the report:
How do consumers and institutional buyers know if something is 'green' or 'eco- friendly'? As environmental qualities are often imperceptible in the final product, producers need to make them visible to consumers. Many ecolabels and eco-certification schemes have been launched to validate green claims, guide green purchasing, and improve environmental performance standards. Done well, ecolabels and eco-certifications can provide an effective baseline within industry sectors by encouraging best practice and providing guidelines that companies must meet in order to meet a certified standard.
Demand for products with ecolabels is growing, though confusion about which companies are truly environmentally responsible persists. For example, the numbers of ecolabeled organic food products and forestry practices have grown at 20-30% per year since the late 1990s and early 2000s (USDA, 2007). A 2009 Mintel study showed that the green market outperformed the US economy as a whole in 2009 and grew by over 40% from 2004 to 2009.
More than a third of US consumers now say they are willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly products (according to a March 2010 Mintel study). In some cases this is even higher, for example 53% of US consumers would be willing to pay a premium for a greener television, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. In the UK, according to a 2009 Carbon Trust study, 44% of UK consumers want more information on what companies are doing to be green, but 70% do not feel confident about identifying which companies are environmentally responsible.
More information, including detailed reports on each of the labels, is online at EcoLabelIndex.com.