Ecolabels as Regulatory Measures - A comparative study of the Eco Flower and the Nordic Swan.
Abstract: Eco-labels show consumers which products' impact (multi-criteria basis) on the environment is the smallest compared to competitively and functionally similar ones and is intended to change consumption patterns. Generally most voluntary eco-labelling schemes have similar distinctive features, the main goal being that of promoting environmentally 'superior' products in providing consumers information and raising environmental standards. The eco-label is functioning as a tool for international understanding of the importance in attaining sustainable development. Voluntary agreements are used as a complement to environmental policy instrument, going beyond environmental targets set in different regulations. In both programs the design of dispute resolution depend on each member country. Thus, in case of non-compliance the member state is responsible in taking measures though applicants need to provide independent documentation through tests on the conformity of their products with labelling criteria. Independent environmental agents carry out periodic inspections. Further more, the Eco-labels examined in this paper are protected trademarks. When importing products from countries outside the Union, the monitoring of compliance with required standards, production methods and issues on labour is more complicated. Voluntary eco labels are not in them selves discriminatory trade measures, but influencing consumer behaviour, consumption, producers and service providers they may have the effect of trade barriers. The presence of all sorts of private, national, single or multi criteria label causes considerable confusion amongst consumers and distortions in the market place. Through agreements and global co-operation it will be easier to achieve environmental goals without inhibiting free trade issues.
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