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How do the revisions of the Nordic and EU ecolabel criteria reflect circular economy?

Suikkanen, Johanna M.; Nissinen, Ari

In a Circular Economy, products maintain their potential to create value for as long as possible (EC 2019:3). The focus of this paper is on Type 1 eco-label as an existing policy instrument, in creating a pull towards product qualities that enhance Circular Economy. Durability, reparability, upgradability and multi-functionality contribute to extending product service times. Material circulation factors are also essential. The aim of this research was to assess the extent to which the ecolabel criteria that have been published during the period 2017-2019 reflect Circular Economy, with a focus on product service time extension and whether a strengthening of the relevant requirements can be observed. This research builds on previous research carried out in 2016: “Do ecolabels promote longer life times: a comparison of the Nordic Swan and EU ecolabel” (Suikkanen, J. and Nissinen A. (2017), PLATE Conference proceedings). The data for this analysis is new criteria and revisions of criteria of the Nordic Ecolabel and the EU Ecolabel dating from 2017, 2018 and 2019. We analysed the criteria and compared them to the results from the previous paper. We noted that the new criteria documents mention Circular Economy. However, in practice the requirements mainly reflect Circular Economy in packaging requirements. This is concluded to be line with the EU Plastics strategy and identified priority sectors. However, there is a need for more coherently and broadly include requirements that enhance in particular life time extending factors, such as reparability and upgradability to further address Circular Economy through ecolabelling.
Published in: PLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment : 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Published by ISBN 978-3-7983-3125-9