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Research on Existing Labels
What is a sustainability label?
Sustainability labelling is a means of measuring performance and also communicating and marketing the environmental credentials of a given product. They are affixed to products that pass certain environmental criteria laid down by government, association or standards certification bodies. The criteria utilises extensive research based on the product's life cycle impact on the environment.
Sustainability or eco labels differ from green symbols and environmental claims in that the latter are unverified and created by the manufacture or service provider. Products awarded an eco label have been assessed and verified by an independent third body and are guaranteed to meet certain environmental performance requirements. Compliance with sustainability labelling is voluntary and the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) has identified three broad types of voluntary labels with sustainability labelling fitting under the strongest Type 1 designation. The ISO classifications are as follows:
- Type I: A voluntary, multiple-criteria based, third party program that awards a license that authorises the use of environmental labels on products indicating overall environmental preferability of a product within a particular product category based on life cycle considerations.
- Type II: Informative environmental self-declaration claims.
- Type III: Voluntary programs that provide quantified environmental data of a product, under pre-set categories of parameters set by a qualified third party and based on life cycle assessment, and verified by that or another qualified third party.
What is the goal of a sustainability label and what change do we aim to create in the market?
Sustainability labels use information as an alternative to traditional methods, such as taxation, for regulating environmental externalities. This public policy tool ultimately encourages the behavioural change of producers and consumers towards long-term sustainability by improving the environmental sustainability of products and consumption patterns.
Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious and, therefore, compliance with eco label requirements can offer producers a competitive advantage by demonstrating good environmental performance and increasing demand for their product. Consumers will also often pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly product. More producers will therefore be incentivised to improve their processing mechanisms and use of material to meet the criteria set by the eco-label. Eco-labelling schemes will also work through educating consumers to a problem that they perhaps weren’t aware of and enable them to make better-informed purchasing decisions.
What is the process of making a label?
What are some success cases for a sustainability label and what was the impact?
A success case should be defined as achieving the ultimate goal associated with the introduction of an eco-label: a reduction in environmental damage.
Gertz (2005) discusses the success of the Blue Angel and European Flower sustainability labels.
Evaluating the PROPER program in Indonesia, Garcia et al. (2007, 2009) argue that pollution levels were lowered in industries associated with the labelling program, and so judge the scheme to be a success. Similarly, the Green Rating program in India appears to have successfully lowered pollution levels, at least in the paper and pulp sector (Powers et al., 2011). As this sector is associated with significant levels of water pollution, one imagines the benefits associated with lower effluents to be significant. These two cases hint at the potential for substantial benefits related to the introduction of a certification scheme, particularly in less-developed countries.
How do we define the criteria for getting the label?
What are the roles in the label definition & accreditation process?
What makes a good label or a bad label?
Do we have access to experts within the Alliance that can help us with this? (South Pole, BV)
What are the deliverables we need to create to get to a label for sustainable cloud infrastructure?
Garcia, J. H., S. Afsah, and T. N. S. Sterner. 2009. “Which Firms are More Sensitive to Public Disclosure Schemes for Pollution Control? Evidence from Indonesia’s PROPER Program.” Environmental and Resource Economics 42: 151–168. Garcia, J. H., T. N. S. Sterner, and S. Afsah. 2007. “Public Disclosure of Industrial Pollution: The PROPER Approach for Indonesia?” Environment and Development Economics 12: 739–756.
Powers, N., A. Blackman, T. P. Lyon, and U. Narain. 2011. “Does Disclosure Reduce Pollution? Evidence from India’s Green Rating Project.” Environmental and Resource Economics 50: 131–155.