Strenghten sustainable consumption worldwide - the German Ecolabel Blue Angel goes international

A Shopper Pushes a Trolley along a Supermarket Aisle - Image has a Shallow Depth of Field

The German-based Der Blaue Engel ("Blue Angel") is the world’s first and oldest ecolabel for products and services. For almost 40 years, it has designated products that meet specific environmental criteria and are more environmentally friendly than other products with comparable performance. Its stringent criteria and the independence of the institutions that participate in awarding it make the Blue Angel one of the world’s most demanding environmental and climate certifications today. While the Blue Angel benefits internationally from the “Made in Germany” brand’s reputation for high quality, it is also regarded as a merely “national” ecolabel. In international marketing, it does not offer companies any added value or offer customers any attractive arguments for buying a product. The result of this is that products bearing Blue Angel certification currently have a limited presence in international markets.

Multiple studies have recommended that the Blue Angel work in cooperation with other ecolabel programmes in order to harmonise ecolabel criteria worldwide. In addition, the mutual recognition of programmes has been identified as a strategy for improving the international positioning of the Blue Angel. In the course of the project, the main challenges of this will be analysed by a consortium made up of adelphi, Bocconi University in Milan and the Öko-Institut Institute for Applied Ecology. The aim is to develop appropriate criteria for helping improve the tracking of raw materials chains and the handling of critical raw materials. Building on this, the project is to identify approaches to overcoming these challenges. The overall objective of the project is to establish type 1 ecolabels worldwide, and in particular the Blue Angel labels as a reliable source of information about the environmental benefits and impacts of products.

The results will be presented and discussed at two annual meetings of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). adelphi is taking the lead on the content, concept and organisation of the GEN 2018 annual meeting in Germany, and is thereby supporting the networking of initiatives and relevant actors in the area of ecolabelling and contributing to an exchange on the research findings that have been gained. Furthermore adelphi supports as co-editor the development of a special issue in a scientific journal on the future of ecolabelling.