Ecolabel Index


Terminology and abbreviations used throughout Ecolabel Index.


American National Standards Institute
American Society for Testing and Materials
Formal recognition that a person or organization is competent to carry out specific tasks, such as certifying, verifying, sampling, testing, inspection or auditing compliance of an entity against an ecolabel’s standard or set of criteria.
Application Fee
The fee paid to an ecolabel program by a company or organization in order to initiate an application for an ecolabel. In the event the application is successful, other fees may also apply (see license fees).
The characteristics or elements of products or services that determine the type and extent of their short and longer term impacts on the environment or human health. Environmental attributes include, for example, biodegradability, recyclability, VOC emissions, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air emissions, hazardous waste, carcinogenicity,
A systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which criteria (of an ecolabel) are fulfilled. Audits may take place in before or after gaining certification; and can be scheduled or surprise.
Auditor / Audit by
An organization or individual with the competence to conduct an audit, verification or certification process. Competence is the demonstrated attributes and ability to apply the relevant knowledge or skills to conduct an audit.
Business to Business
Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association
An expected environmental or social improvement (or positive impact) that has been made as a result of procurement of an environmentally preferable product or service, or as a result of an ecolabel program.
Binary (Pass / Fail) Ecolabel
An ecolabel that is either awarded or not-awarded depending on the outcome of an evaluation or assessment of the entity against an ecolabel’s standard. Binary ecolabels are different to tiered ecolabels that have different ratings as a result (e.g. gold, sliver, bronze).
Bio-based Products
Commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that utilize biological products or renewable, domestic, agricultural (e.g., plant, animal and marine), or forestry materials.
Cleaning Industry Management Standard
Canadian Standards Association
Cause-based Marketing
A type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit and a non-profit organization around a particualr "cause" or social/environmental issue.
A document or statement attesting to an entity or product meeting the criteria of an ecolabel, and thus being awarded the right to use the ecolabel in marketing, packaging etc.
The process by which an entity is examined against the standard or set of criteria of an ecolabel. A successful certification process will result in the awarding of the ecolabel. Typically certification refers to third-party attestation that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements.
Certification Duration
The period of time for which the holder of the ecolabel may use and display it before it needs to be re-certified or re-audited to ensure standards are still being met.
An individual or organization who assesses compliance of an entity against a standard or set of criteria, and issues a certificate if deemed successful.
Chain of Custody
Tracing of a product or commodity through a supply chain to determine that it has met the criteria of the ecolabel and that the certified product is identifiable.
Compliance Audit
A compliance audit checks to see if the entity is still meeting the standard or set of criteria of an ecolabel, and is correctly using the ecolabel in its marketing.
Conformity Assessment
Activities concerned with demonstrating that requirements or criteria of a given standard or ecolabel are being fulfilled.
Where substantial agreement has been reached by directly and materially affected interests. This signifies the concurrence of more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity. Consensus requires that all views and objections be considered, and that an effort be made toward their resolution.
Consensus-based process
A process or activity that ensures that consensus amongst multiple stakeholders has been achieved, for example, in determining the exact requirements of a standard or set of criteria.
Corrective Action Reports
Reports that are issued during certification that require entities applying for an ecolabel to make specific changes to their processes in order to meet criteria. Requirements in Corrective Action Reports can be either mandatory, or recommended.
The specific conditions or indicators that have to be met in order for an entity to be awarded the use of an ecolabel. A set-of-criteria make up a standard.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK)
An enforceable attestation by a responsible authority within the manufacturer’s organization that the product meets the requirements of the standard as declared.
Desk Review
Review of initial data provided by a manufacturer when they initiate registration of products to some ecolabel systems
Dispute Resolution Process
A formal procedure that lays out the method and timetable for resolving conflict between parties, in this case in disagreements over the standard-setting process, or the application of ecolabel standards.
Environmental Management System
Environmental Protection Agency (USA)
Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool
European Union
A sign or logo that is intended to indicate an environmentally preferable product, service or company, based on defined standards or criteria.
Ecolabel Description
A description of the overarching goal, scope and key criteria of an ecolabel program.
Ecolabel Program
The organization that creates an ecolabel, and is responsible for its ongoing management and use.
A product, service, company, or organization that seeks, or has been, awarded an ecolabel. Entities can be buildings, companies, facilities, farms, fisheries, forests / land holdings, individuals, non-profit, organizations, products, processes, services, or supply chains.
Environmental Claim
Any statement or assertion about the environmental aspects of an entity. Environmental claims include un-verified assertions or statements (e.g. “eco-friendly”); more structured environmental declarations; and verified ecolabels.
Environmental Product Declaration
Quantified environmental data for a product with pre-set categories of parameters (raw material, energy use, etc) based on the ISO 14040 series. Also includes additional product and company information.
Environmentally Preferable Products
Products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.
Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International
Forest Stewardship Council
Federal Trade Commission (USA)
Fair Trade
Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade Organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
Field- or Site- Visit
An in-person visit made to check compliance of an entity to an ecolabel’s standard either before or after the ecolabel is awarded.
First party attestation
When the producer of an entity claims to meet a criterion or standard without the verification or endorsement of another party.
First, Second and Third Party
The first party is generally the person or organization that provides the object, such as the supplier. The second party is usually a person or organization that has a user interest in the product, such as the customer or a retailer. The third party is a person or body that is recognized as being independent of the person or organization that provides the object, as well as the user or customer of the object.
Found in
The countries or regions of the world where consumers might see the ecolabel.
Frequency of Audit
How often the ecolabel program requires that an entity is evaluated as still being in compliance with its criteria. Audits can be scheduled or surprise (random).
Frequency of Criteria Review and Update
How often the ecolabel program reviews or updates their standard or set of criteria.
Global Ecolabelling Network
Greenhouse gas
Genetically modified organism
Global Organic Textile Standard
Geographic Restriction
The geographic region to which applicants for an ecolabel is constrained.
The overarching objective of the ecolabel program – the environmental and or social problem(s) that it seeks to address or mitigate.
Green Product
A product that is environmentally preferable relative to comparable products.
A process whereby national or regional ecolabels, standards, criteria and or conformance assessment requirements are aligned. Harmonization does not mean that standards are identical in each jurisdiction, but rather that they are consistent or compatible so there is no barrier to trade.
Harmonized Standards
Standards on the same subject approved by different standardizing bodies that establish interchangeability of products, processes and services, or mutual understanding of test results or information provided according to these standards.
Hybrid / Social Venture
A type of organisation that combines for and non-profit activities
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance
International Organization for Standardization
Impact / Impacts
The effect or output of an activity, product or substance on the environment or society, whether adverse or beneficial.
Industry Category
The category in which entities with an ecolabel are typically categorized as belonging to. For example, an organic label certifies food from farms, and thus is categorized as part of the food and/or agriculture industry.
Life cycle assessment
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
License fees
The fees paid, often yearly, by an entity to the ecolabel program for ongoing use of the label on their products or services.
Life Cycle
Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation of natural resources to the final disposal.
Life Cycle Assessment
The comprehensive examination of a product’s environmental and economic aspects and potential impacts throughout its lifetime, including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Life Cycle Cost
The amortized annual cost of a product, including capital costs, installation costs, operating costs, maintenance costs and disposal costs discounted over the lifetime of the product However, this definition does not include external costs (i.e., those not borne directly by the entity that owns and operates a product/service, such as environmental costs to society at large).
Life Cycle Stage or Phase
Specific steps in a product’s life cycle that are grouped into “phases”, for example, raw material extraction, manufacturing or product use. An ecolabel may focus on improving environmental and/or social performance of a product in a single phase (e.g. just raw material extraction) or address environmental and/or social performance improvements across the full life cycle of the product (every phase).
Market Share
The percentage of the total sales of a given type of product or service that are attributable to a given company or products who have obtained an ecolabel.
Multi-Attribute Ecolabel
A type of ecolabel that captures several environmental and or social attributes or impacts of a product, service or company
Mutual recognition
Where ecolabel programs or standard-setting organizations formally recognize the criteria and requirements of each-others’ standards or sets of criteria. If such an agreement exists, entities that have been awarded the label in one program may therefore be able to register in another without undertaking certification and verification procedures again.
Non-Governmental Organization
A formal rule or standard laid-down by an authority (government, international standards organizations) that guides or mandates behaviour towards conformity.
Number of Certificates or Registrations
The total number of entities (products, services or companies) that have been awarded or registered an ecolabel, and that are currently in use.
A formal protest or disapproval of something that has been said, has occurred, or is about to occur in an ecolabel program.
Organization Name
The name of the organization responsible for managing and promoting an ecolabel program.
Organization Type
The legal structure of the organization responsible for managing and promoting the ecolabel program.
Publicly Available Specification
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes
Performance-based Ecolabel or Standard
Those ecolabels or standards that require specific and measurable performance outcomes to be achieved by the entity. They are typically contrasted to process-based ecolabels or standards.
Process-based ecolabel or standard
A type of ecolabel where the standard or set of criteria assess an entity’s having undertaken activities or processes, for example, creating an environmental management system or reporting.
The acquisition of products and services by contract through purchase or lease, whether the supplies or services are already in existence or must be created, developed, demonstrated, and evaluated. Acquisition begins at the point when needs are established and includes the description of requirements to meet those needs, solicitation and selection of sources, award of contracts, contract financing, contract performance, contract administration, and those technical and management functions directly related to the process of fulfilling purchaser needs by contract.
The result of a process, i.e., a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs, of which four generic categories are services, software, hardware and processed materials.
Product Category
A category in which products are typically classified, for example, by purchasers. Various standards exist for the classification of products designed to enable comparability and measurability.
Quality Management System
In order to begin the certification process entities need to be registered with the ecolabel program. In some ecolabel programs, once registration is complete, entities can start using the ecolabel because no up-front certification is required.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Second Party Certified or Verified
When an entity is assessed against a standard by an organization that has an interest in the entity but is not the producer of it.
Service Category
A category in which services are typically classified, for example, by purchasers. Various standards exist for the classification of services designed to enable comparability and measurability.
Single Attribute Label
A type of ecolabel that captures one aspect or quality of an entity’s environmental or social performance.
Tolerances, limiting values and other defining characteristics for materials, products, services, processes, systems or persons, contained within the provisions of a standard.
Individual, or group of individuals with interests that may affect, or be affected by, an organization or in this case, ecolabel program. Stakeholders are typically described in groups or categories (such as customers, producers, suppliers, environmental non-governmental organizations, etc)
A standard is a set of criteria that an entity is evaluated against and that has been developed by national, regional, or international program, or a private standard developer. Standards are sometimes named differently from the ecolabel that is awarded and used for marketing purposes.
Standard-Setting Organization
The organization responsible for creating and maintaining the set of criteria that makes up a standard; and which stipulates the requirements or conditions of the ecolabel’s use.
Target Audience
The intended recipients of information supplied by an ecolabel program, for example, purchasers who might be expected to take into account the ecolabel in their purchasing decision or individual consumers shopping in retail stores.
Third Party Certified or Verified
When an entity is assessed against a standard by an independent (third party) organization that is different to the entity being certified (first party), and the ecolabel program that set the standard (second party).
Time Series Data
Quantities that represent or trace the values taken by a variable over a period (such as a month, quarter, or year). Time series data occurs wherever the same measurements are recorded on a regular basis.
Open, comprehensive and understandable presentation of information.
Type 1 Ecolabel
A category of ecolabel described by the ISO 14024 standard on ecolabels that cover multiple attributes that are life-cycle based (though not requiring a life cycle assessment) and that are verified by a third party
Type 2 Ecolabel
A category of ecolabel described by the ISO 14024 standard pertaining to self-declared environmental claims by manufacturers with no requirements or verification by an independent party.
Type 3 Ecolabel
A category of ecolabel described by the ISO 14024 standard pertaining to Environmental Product Declarations based on product category rules and requiring a product life cycle assessment with the EPD verified by a 3rd party expert.
United Kingdom Accreditation Service
United States Department of Agriculture
U.S. Green Building Council
Volatile Organic Compound
The process by which an entity is evaluated or assessed against a standard or set of criteria to ensure conformance or ongoing compliance.
Verified By
The name of the organization or individual who performed the verification.
World Trade Organization
Year Established
The year in which the ecolabel program or organization managing the ecolabel program was established.


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