Ecolabeling as a practice spans back decades, as environmental problems have long persisted in tandem with the processes that support civilization. However, while ecological issues have remained the same, their effects have worsened, shifting the context in which we perceive and address them.
Today, due to the urgency to remedy numerous anthropogenic environmental changes, it is accepted by the general public, experts, and most governments that something needs to be done.
Companies are largely responsible for the environmental degradation following the Industrial Revolution, so incorporating sustainable practices into any organization, large or small, can help limit future environmental harm. Environmental labels are a marker for a product’s sustainability, demonstrating that it is natural, recyclable, ecofriendly, low-energy, etc. This conveys a clear message to customers, who can use the ecolabels to make green decisions, ultimately putting environmental improvements into their own hands. The consumer is the one who supports the company, after all.
Ecolabels come in various forms. Type I environmental labeling results from a voluntary, multiple-criteria-based third party program that awards an environmental label to products that meet a set of predetermined requirements. Therefore, the label identifies products that are determined to be environmentally preferable within a particular product category. ISO 14024:2018 establishes the principles and procedures for Type I environmental labeling programs.
According to ISO 14024:2018, Type I environmental labeling programs are voluntary, and they can be operated by public or private agencies at the national, regional, or international level.
When ISO 14024 was first published in 1999, ecolabeling was just a growing concern. Today, however, the importance of environmental labeling has heightened with the seriousness of contemporary environmental problems. Skepticism has even risen with validity of certain ecolabels.
Due to the market advantage given to products with environmental labels, ISO 14024 needed an update to meet current consumer expectations and demands. ISO 14024:2018, the second edition of the standard, aims to strengthen the guidelines for facts and documentation used for ecolabeling and defining the competence of verifiers.
In doing so, ISO 14024:2018 contains the following major changes:
- Updated reference documents
- Added definitions for verifier and verification
- Added subclause 5.16 and a paragraph in 6.1 for the competence of verifiers
- Added subclauses 5.1 for data quality and 7.4.5 for verification
If you’d like to learn more about standards in the ISO 14020 series and ecolabeling in general, please refer to our post on environmental labeling.
ANSI also has an Eco-Labeling/EPDs Program, which, being based on ISO 14024:2018 and other standards in the series, focuses on determining the eligibility of Type I certification schemes. The program also covers the accreditation of third party ecolabeling certification bodies. You can learn more here: Eco-Labeling/EPDs Program
ISO 14024:2018 – Environmental labels and declarations – Type I environmental labelling – Principles and procedures is available on the ANSI Webstore.