ISO 14020 Environmental Standard

As a result of dissemination of environmental claims, if such claims are made, there is a need for eco-labeling acts that require approval of all relevant aspects of products life. Manufacturers or anyone who wants to benefit from these claims can make environmental self-declarations. Environmental claim may be presented in the form of wordings, symbols or images on labels attached to packaging, or they can be submitted in documentation, technical bulletins, promotional materials, in the telemarketing network, as well as in digital or electronic information means such as the Internet. All these demands are determined in ISO 14020 standards series (14020, 14201, 14024, 14025).

Assurance in the reliability of information is essential for ecological self-separation. It is important to verify claims properly to avoid adverse market consequences, such as barriers to trade or unfair competition that could lead to unreliable and misleading claims. Assessment approach used by claims authors needs to be clear, transparent, scientifically sound and documented so customers or potential buyers of products can be confident in the accuracy of the claims.

Field of Application

ISO 14020 describes the general methodology for verifying self-declarations and the specific methods for assessing statements made in this act. According to these regulations, environmental labeling is divided into two main types for:

  1. designation of a certain ecological characteristic of the product (type II);
  2. identification and confirmation of the benefits of the object of labeling in terms of its impact on environment and humans (type I).

I ecological marking type determines the competitive advantage of an environmental certification body in terms of its impact on environment and human health at all stages of the life cycle. This type of labeling provides for the establishment of criteria for each products category or services to assess its benefits and is more reliable because the right to use it is granted by a third party (eco-labeling authority) based on the results of the assessment. Type I eco-labeling is a guide for the end consumer, customer, supplier or retailer focused on safer products with improved functionality.

Type II eco-labeling informs about a specific characteristic related to environmental impacts that may be useful for operation, maintenance, repair or disposal. Type II marking refers to self-declarations, i.e. statements that do not require additional independent assessment by a third party (certification). Phrases of such statements, their interpretations, methods of substantiation of their application and warnings about misleading the consumer are set out in ISO 14020 Environmental self-declarations (type II labeling).

According to ISO 14020, following phrases are provided:

  • suitable for composting;
  • capable of decomposition;
  • collapsible construction;
  • products with extended shelf life;
  • recovered (restored) energy;
  • suitable for recycling;
  • content of recycled materials;
  • recycled material;
  • recovered (recovered) material;
  • reduced energy consumption;
  • reduced resources use;
  • reduced water consumption;
  • suitable for reuse;
  • suitable for refilling;
  • low-waste products, components or packaging.

These phrases belong to “environmental self-declaration” category of, or type II labeling of ISO 14020; it must be used in conjunction with an explanatory note to prevent misleading interpretations of their meaning. The application requires the manufacturer to have appropriate supporting documentation for this or that statement. Design or technical documentation, test or research reports and other documents may be considered as supporting documents. Special characters may be used in conjunction with or instead of the above phrases.

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