Influences, effects and changes from interventions by eco-labelling schemes - What a Swan can do?

University dissertation from International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University

Abstract: Eco-labelling is a voluntary and informative policy instrument aiming at stimulating environmentally beneficial product development through using the market forces. The Nordic Swan eco-labelling scheme has been in operation since 1989. The research presented in this thesis concentrates on the kinds of influences, effects and changes caused by the Nordic scheme. The direct effects regard environmental benefits, as well as other effects and changes leading to environmental benefits, from changes of licence holders’ products in a life cycle perspective, conducted to meet present and revised environmental criteria, and subsequently, from consumers’ purchases of eco-labelled products. The indirect effects are effects and changes that can be fully or partly related to the presence of eco-labels, eco-labelled products, operations of an eco-labelling scheme or its criteria, but not the direct effects of them. The indirect effects are, in particular, influencing consumption, production, information, and/or policy measures in an environmentally preferable direction. The research concludes that that a number of effects have been addressed and primarily been described in qualitative terms; very little of environmental benefits have been qualitative measured. The main explanation is that there is so far no standardised method for doing so, and very few specified indicators. The information needed for further quantifications may be possible to obtain from producers and sales organisations. Thus, an easy-to-use, proxy-based diagnosis tool is proposed. In addition, an approach for quantifications is proposed but its application must be balances against the resource needs for its performance.