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EU's flower ecolabel celebrates ten years

3rd December 2002

ENDS - Environment Daily

The EU's flower ecolabel programme celebrated its tenth anniversary at a special event in Brussels yesterday. The programme included a fashion parade showcasing ecolabelled textiles and the launch of a new online catalogue to help make purchase of products carrying the flower easier.

The flower has been much maligned in the past for its generally low penetration and lack of relevance in countries possessing their own national labelling initiatives. Its profile is rising however as a potentially important part of the European Commission's forthcoming strategy on integrated product policy (ED 08/01/02). Well over 100 firms now hold ecolabel licences, covering several hundred products.

In a panel discussion session to debate the future of the programme, EU ecolabelling board chairman Knud Vilby acknowledged there were "still weaknesses in the system". Parties involved in taking the scheme forward were "still not all pulling in the same direction, and some aren't pulling at all", he said.

Some countries were still "virtually invisible" in the programme, he added, citing Germany and the UK as examples. There was also lingering conflict between regional ecolabels such as the Nordic Swan and Germany's Blue Angel. But the label's "weak performance" during its first six or seven years was "not something that cannot be changed", Mr Vilby concluded.

Charlotte de Roo of European consumers' lobby Beuc felt the flower was "not doing very well, to be honest". She cited a survey by her organisation that found only a quarter of respondents knew where they could buy ecolabelled goods. She also called for ecolabel criteria to be developed for mobile telephones, toiletries and toys.

Meanwhile, Catia Soares of ecolabel holding Portuguese clothing firm Naturapura called for a guarantee that all fees generated by the programme will be ring-fenced for marketing drives. She said joint promotion activities with environmental groups would help the visibility of the label, as would the development of distinctive packaging to be used by all "flowered" products.