The EU has launched its “Single Market for Green Products Initiative”.
According to the EU, a company wishing to market its product as green in several member state markets faces a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives, and might find it needs to apply several of them in order to prove the product's green credentials. This, said the EU, is turning into a barrier for the circulation of green products in the single market.
The EU describes an example in which a given company wishing to market its product as a green product in the UK, France, Italy and Switzerland would need to apply different schemes in order to compete based on environmental performance in the different national markets. In France, it would need to carry out an environmental assessment in line with the French method (BP X30-323); in the UK, it would need to apply the PAS 2050 or the WRI GHG Protocol; in Switzerland, it would need to apply the Swiss approach (currently under development); in Italy, it would need to join the governmentally recognised carbon footprint scheme, and carry out yet another analysis. The same company would also need to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) based on ISO 14025 for the Swedish market. They may then need to undertake multiple EPDs as there are at least six competing EPD systems around the world with their own specificities, even if they are all based on ISO 14025.
Consumers are also, according to the EU, confused by the stream of diverse environmental information which it is not possible to compare: according to a recent Eurobarometer, 48 % of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information they receive. This also affects their readiness to make green purchases.
The Single Market for Green Products initiative proposes a set of actions to overcome these problems:
it establishes two methods to measure environmental performance throughout the lifecycle, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF);
it recommends the use of these methods to member states, companies, private organisations and the financial community through a commission recommendation;
it announces a three-year testing period to develop product- and sector-specific rules through a multi-stakeholder process;
it provides principles for communicating environmental performance, such as transparency, reliability, completeness, comparability and clarity;
it supports international efforts towards more coordination in methodological development and data availability.