Discuss “environmentally friendly” products and product development.
Germany has a strict Eco-labeling program to identify, for the concerned consumer, products that have a lesser negative impact on the environment than similar products. Under German law, a manufacturer is permitted to display a logo, called the “Blue Angel,” on all products that comply with certain criteria that make it environmentally friendly. More than 3,200 products in 58 product categories have been examined and given the Blue Angel logo. While it is difficult to judge the commercial value of a Blue Angel designation, manufacturers are seeking the eco-label for their products in response to growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products. Similar national labels are under discussion in France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The EC Commission issued guidelines for eco-labeling that became operational in October 1992. Under the EC directive, a product is evaluated on all significant environmental effects throughout its life cycle, from manufacturing to disposal, a cradle-to-grave approach. Companies will be encouraged to continuously update their environmental technology because eco-labels will be granted for only a limited period. As more environmentally friendly products come onto the market, the standards will become tougher, and products that have not been improved will lose their eco-label.
The “Blue Angel” and similar eco-labels are awarded on the basis of a product’s environmental friendliness, that is, how “friendly” when used and when its residue is released into the environment. A detergent formulated to be bio-degradable and not pollute would be judged more friendly than a detergent whose formulation would be harmful when discharged. Aerosol propellants that do not deplete the ozone layer are another example of environmentally friendly products. No country’s laws yet require products to carry an “eco-label” to be sold. The designation that a product is “environmentally friendly” is voluntary and its environmental success depends on the consumer selecting the “eco-friendly” product. However, laws that mandate systems to control solid waste management, while voluntary in one sense, do carry penalties in that consumers may not select their products.