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A new research project analyses synergies between ecolabels, product environmental footprint and circular economy

Press release 2016-07-01 at 14:12
Coloured sheets
SYKE proposes that multifunctionality, upgradability, reparability and the use of recycled materials gain more importance in product design © Raili Malinen
Nordic Swan
The Nordic Swan is one of the verified ecolabels

The European Commission is developing environmental footprint methodology to measure products’ environmental effects during their life cycle and to improve the comparability of products. The objective of the three-year project “The Nordic Swan Ecolabel, Circular Economy and Product Environmental Footprint” by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is to explore what kind of new information the EU environmental footprint methodology could bring to the use of third-party verified ecolabels like the Nordic Swan, and by these means, strengthen the competitive advantage of environmentally friendly products.

Thus the project, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, will carry out research into how the current award criteria of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel promote a more environmentally friendly way of consumption by means of circular economy, and how the criteria could be further strengthened. The principles of circular economy can be observed by researching for example product durability, lifespan, material circulation and its reuse. The award criteria for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel are based on life cycle thinking and are updated regularly. First, the Finnish Environment Institute examines three product groups that are important from the consumers’ point of view: rechargeable batteries, papers and textiles.

“It is important to consider what synergies ecolabels could have with the new methodology measuring product environmental footprint. More generally, products should be designed so that they are durable, and so that they can be modified and recycled”, says project leader Ari Nissinen from SYKE.

The environmental footprint under development relates to a product’s carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption and the impact on eutrophication, for example. Its purpose is to combine different types of environmental impacts into one single evaluation.

In the project, the expertise of Nordic life cycle researchers and eco-designers is utilised widely. SYKE also cooperates with the Nordic Swan organisation. The objective is to produce policy recommendations for the Nordic Council of Ministers and also to the European Commission. The project is one of the projects of Finland’s Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2016, and will be continued until 2018.

Project page

More information

Head of Unit Ari Nissinen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 295 251457, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Researcher Johanna Suikkanen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 295 251845, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

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