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The EU flower mark

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At the beginning of 2002, the European Commission announced plans to revitalize its own eco-labeling scheme for the EU, the 'Flower' mark. The number of product categories covered by the scheme was to be expanded from 19 to 30, and more money was earmarked for promoting the scheme among manufacturers and consumers.

Up to that time, take-up of the scheme had been modest. Although the program had been running since 1992, most of the 15 EU member states had designated fewer than three products to carry the flower logo. The majority of the labeling activity took place in France, Denmark, Italy and Spain.

Furthermore, the flower mark had made an appearance in only 12 of the 19 product groups for which criteria had been drawn up. 'Textile products' and 'indoor paints and varnishes' account for the majority of the 100 or so product labels awarded up to the end of 2001.

Nevertheless, the Commission reports that 'several hundred' products now carry the flower logo, and that the number more than doubled during 2001.

Other product groups embraced by the certification scheme include cleaning products, household appliances, paper products and soil improvers.

The Commission's 'working plan' for the EU eco-label scheme, covering the three-year period from 2002 to 2004, focuses on several specific issues, namely:

  • Redirecting resources towards marketing and promotion;
  • Exploiting synergies with other types of environmental labeling such as environmental product declarations and environmental management schemes such as EMAS;
  • Using the flower scheme as a benchmark for public procurement, which accounts for around 14% of product purchases in the European Union;
  • The possible role of eco-labeling in the wider context of integrated product policy (IPP).

'Consumers and public purchasers should be entitled to the best environmental performance, and that is assured by the eco-label,' said environment commissioner Margot Wallström. 'And manufacturers and retailers should be prepared to meet the increased demand from consumers for superior products.'

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