Eco-Labeling May Make Packaging More Complex, Report Finds

Eco-Labeling May Make Packaging More Complex, Report Finds

Proposed amendments to European directives for packaging and waste electronics and new mercury laws passed in U.S. will make package labeling more complex, according to a new report, "Green Labeling: Global Guide for Marketers in the New Millennium," released by Raymond Communications.

"Only English-speaking countries seem to even have clear green labeling guidelines, and only the U.S. and perhaps the U.K. have ever tried to enforce such guidelines," says publisher Michele Raymond. While fraudulent claims are rare in the U.S., they may continue in other countries.

The report finds that eco-labeling programs, such as the German Blue Angel and the Nordic Swan will never "harmonize" with each other because of cultural differences. American industry has shied away from eco-labels because the criteria can become obsolete quickly, and may not reward innovation. However, many European and Asian countries see them as a tool of soft policy. While use of an eco-label will not help sell products in America, an appropriate in-country label can be helpful for marketing in the "green" countries such as Germany, Austria, and the Nordic countries.

Other report findings include:
  • Proposed amendments to the Directive on Packaging & Packaging Waste would make the material coding mandatory for all packaging.
  • The new electronics directives will require new labeling on electronics for recycling.
  • Companies that cannot take the European Green Dot off their package for Canada may have to pay license fees to an Ontario trade association.
  • New mercury restrictions passed in five U.S. states will require disclosures on mercury-added products, though where the labels will be required will vary between the states.
  • New international standards, and European Union rules require all wood packaging to be treated and marked because of problems with insect infestations.
  • Japan and Taiwan require completely different material/recycling symbols on certain packages.
The report covers mandatory labeling in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, as well as term definitions (such as use of the term "recyclable"), and summarizes ecolabel programs globally. It provides analysis of some of the more complex issues, such as use of the Green Dot, and when and where green labels make sense.
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