FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is Ecolabelling regulated?
The global principles and procedures for ecolabelling are set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) in its standard ISO 14024, which identifies three types of ecolabels:
Type I: a multi-attribute ecolabel developed by a third party
Type II: a single-attribute ecolabel developed by the producer themselves
Type III: an ecolabel based on a full life-cycle assessment
Of these, the Type 1 ecolabel is recognised as the most robust and credible. Eco-Choice Africa operates as a Type I ecolabel.
How does ECA comply with ISO14024?
ECA is guided fully by the requirements of ISO14024 in respect of the development, management and auditing processes of ecolabels. All standards issued by ECA have been developed in accordance with ISO14024 by respected organisations in the field, and they meet the prescribed structure for ISO14024 recognition.
ECA is the only not-for-profit, independent Type 1 ecolabel on the continent.
How are ECA’s standards developed?
The ECA standards are developed by standards setting organisations in any one of the 25 members of the Global Ecolabelling Network. ECA is not a standards setting body, but we adopt and ‘adapt’ standards that have been developed by GEN members in countries that reflect the most appropriate conditions to our market region. This process does not include changes to any standard that could affect its compliance to ISO14024 or which could conflict with local legislation or established standards.
Can anyone apply for an ecolabel?
Yes, any manufacturer can apply for an ecolabel for as long as a specific standard exists. ECA has started recognition of certain categories of products and services only, but this will be expanded as demand for ecolabelling increases.
What elements should a reputable ecolabel have?
A reputable ecolabel should be able to demonstrate the following key elements:
transparency in its standards and standards development process
independence from any vested interest
consistency in the application of its standards
the use of independent third party accreditation and verification processes
Key qualities to look for in when selecting an ecolabel are:
transparency and consistency in its standards
relevance to local conditions
Verification of compliance for ECA is undertaken by an independent laboratory accredited by SANAS or its international equivalent. The Certification body should have no ties or affiliation with the testing facility and ECA meets this requirement fully.
Robustness, credibility and impartiality are what build the reputations of good ecolabels so that suppliers and consumers can come to trust them.
But do Ecolabels make a difference?
Yes they do. By gaining consumer confidence and trust, ecolabels help increase sales of products that perform better socially and environmentally. In this way, they can help drive demand and supply of more sustainable production and consumption by influencing or affirming positive actions by consumers, retailers, manufacturers and producers alike. Ultimately this can lead to changing social norms and expectations of certain products.
A good example of this can be seen in paints. Paint fumes are caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs have adverse impacts on human health and well-being as well as the environment, causing air pollution, asthma and headache, for example. Increasing public and business demand for less toxic, low VOC paints has resulted in changes in manufacturing and production. Now, although very few paints are ecolabelled, low VOC paints are widely available and commonly used in commercial and domestic building projects.
Additional frequently asked questions about becoming certified withh ECA are on the next page