New version of ISO 14020 updates previous version to keep up with continuing trends and consumer demands.
March 9, 2018
by Sandrine Tranchard, ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
Consumers have high concerns about what they buy, but environmental labels and declarations can help them identify those products or services proven “environmentally preferable”.
But the world’s environmental context has changed dramatically since 1999 when the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) introduced its ISO 14024, laying down the first international requirements for ecolabelling – a change that mirrored by heightened consumer demands.
In keeping up with those heightened consumer demands, the ISO has released a new updated version of the standard to help meet these expectations: ISO 14024:2018.
Ecolabelling found its origins in the growing global concern for environmental protection by government, business and the general public.
Brand owners have come to recognize that environmental concerns may be translated into a market advantage for certain products and services, various environmental declarations, claims and labels have emerged, such as natural, recyclable, eco-friendly, low-energy, recycled content, and so forth.
These have exerted a powerful attraction on consumers looking for ways to reduce environmental impacts through their purchasing choices, but have also led to some confusion and skepticism.
With the new version of ISO 14024, Environmental labels and declarations – Type I environmental labelling – Principles and procedures, helps make sense of it all.
Björn-Erik Lönn, convenor of the working group that revised the standard, explains: “During the past 20 years, the use of ecolabels Type I has increased and the concept is now spreading to more countries and markets in the form of new initiatives impelled by UN Environment and other organizations. The result is a definite win-win-win: a credible ecolabel Type I for consumers, producers and the environment alike. These ecolabels used to cover mostly consumer goods, but now a wide range of services, from hotels to cleaning companies, can be “ecolabelled” based on third-party verification of public environmental requirements determined according to life-cycle considerations of the product.”
ISO 14024:2018 refers to Type I environmental labelling programs, which are voluntary and can be operated by public or private agencies at the national, regional or international level.
It establishes the principles and procedures for developing Type I environmental labelling programs, including the selection of product categories, product environmental criteria and product function characteristics, and for assessing and demonstrating compliance. It also establishes the certification procedures for awarding the label.
“This latest revision aims to strengthen the guidelines for facts and documentation used for ecolabelling and defining the competence of verifiers, putting them in line with requirements for other types of environmental labels mentioned in the guidelines of ISO 14020,” says Lönn. “The core principles and descriptions of the original 1999 version have been kept unchanged as they fully describe the work that Type I ecolabels so successfully do all over the world.”
ISO 14024 sets a rigorous framework and well-functioning guide for Type I ecolabels and the new ISO 14024:2018 version supports the strong position these ecolabels hold in different markets and for a huge variety of products.
The objective is to secure transparency and credibility when implementing Type I environmental labelling programs and to harmonize the principles and procedures applicable to these programs.
In the end, “it’s all about having correct and highly trustworthy environmental information in the marketplace,” says Lönn.
ISO 14024:2018 was developed by technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management, subcommittee SC 3, Environmental labelling, whose secretariat is held by SA (Standards Australia), ISO’s member for Australia. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.
What is a Type I environmental labelling program?
A Type I label is a third-party assessment of a product based on a number of criteria involved in the environmental impact of a product or material throughout its life cycle. The objective of this type of environmental labelling program is to contribute to a reduction in the environmental impacts associated with products, through the identification of products that meet the specific criteria of a Type I program for overall environmental preferability.
Read more: https://www.iso.org/news/ref2273.html.