A study spearheaded by the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL) and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) claims that the saturation point of “eco-labeling” is reaching its peak, resulting to standards-confusion happening within consumer markets and industry players.
With the introduction of the first eco-label, the Blue Angel, in 1978 via the German Ministry of the Environment, there are now over 400 sustainability credentials/standards which are being utilized in 25 different industries, linked with eco-labeling standards.
Within the clothing and textile industry, there are nearly 50 social compliance and eco-sustainability standards, a figure which says a lot about the potential for confusion and frustrations in ideally comprehending the setup.
“It’s not just consumers who are confused. Selecting an eco-label has become a highly complex decision for firms. The trend towards fragmentation, which is made worse by a lack of consensus over qualifying criteria, is clearly causing ever more opposition and frustration,” shares Professor Ralf Seifert of the IMD, co-author of the said study.
The study involved surveys and polls, raking in the sentiments and understanding of more than one thousand executives of established brand names like Sara Lee, Nestle, Canon and even computer-maker Hewlett-Packard. A number of the respondents expressed their questioning views towards eco-labels, with regards their certification procedures and certifications.
Fragmentation and confusion remained to be a common denominator for the study’s inability to yield concise views towards eco-labels and eco-labeling, which says a lot about how confusing the eco-label industry’s certification standards and norms have become.
The research found continuing fragmentation, consumer confusion and lack of consensus on qualifying criteria are viewed as the greatest challenges to hopes of eco-labeling continuing in its current form.
However, initiatives are being worked out, in the hopes of remedying the eco-label industry’s “confusing state”.