1. How did it originate?
The Nordic Eco-label was established in 1989 by the Nordic Council of Ministers, and is locally implemented by the governments
of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. It is the official eco-label in the Nordic countries. Today it is the world’s
leading eco-label with over 3000 products and services in a total of 66 product areas.
2. What is the purpose of the Nordic Eco-label?
Unfortunately we do not live in a sustainable society. We consume too many things, we do not recycle, and we do not use enough renewable energy. Our vision is a sustainable society where future generations will have the same opportunities as we have today. To achieve this goal, our mission is to encourage sustainable consumerism. The Nordic Eco-label, commonly known in the Nordic countries as “the Swan” because of its symbol, requires manufacturers and their raw material suppliers to adhere to strict environmental and health guidelines in the selection and preparation of raw materials and during production of a finished product. The end result is a guarantee that products with a label are manufactured with no harmful chemicals, a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, less waste and more recycling. Therefore it is important that more people buy Nordic Eco-labeled products and companies sell more Nordic Eco-labeled products and services.
3. How is it financed?
Eco-labeling receives funding from the government and through its licensing fees from companies, normally 0.3% to 0.4% of the annual turnover from the Nordic Eco-labeled product or service. The operation is run completely without industry or profit interest. Its financial resources are used for the development of new criteria, control of products and services, and marketing.
4. Who controls the Nordic Eco-label?
The Nordic Eco-label is controlled by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Eco-labeling Board, and
is locally implemented by the governments of each country. Eco-labeling Denmark is in charge of the Flower and Swan in Denmark. Ecolabelling Denmark is situated in the Copenhagen area at Danish Standards Foundation and is responsible for the administration of the only two officially approved eco-labels in Denmark: The Nordic Eco-label and the Flower (European Eco-label). Ecolabelling Denmark is independent of producers, brands and financial interests.
The Nordic Eco-labeling Board consists of members from each participating nation and decides on Nordic criteria requirements
for products and services. When a product is granted a Nordic Eco-label in one Nordic country, the company can then apply, for a Nordic
Eco-label in the other Nordic countries.
5. What sort of products can be Nordic Eco-labeled?
Today there are 66 product and service categories. Thousands of products and services, from detergents to car tires to hotels and restaurants can apply for the Nordic Eco-label.
6. How are product criteria areas chosen?
The Swan Label chooses to work in the areas where they believe they can make a difference. In other words, choosing areas where they can achieve the highest environmental impact gains. The Swan Label chooses product areas from three perspectives.
Relevance - is this an area with huge environmental
problems? If it is, the Nordic Eco-label looks closer
Potential for environmental improvements - if
criteria are created for this group, will it make an
environmental difference and impact? Whether these
products are used by many people is also taken into
And lastly, can the Nordic Eco-label steer the
production of this product or the establishment of this
service (e.g. for hotels, restaurants, car washes) so
that labeling this product will achieve a better
environmental production or establishment process?
A total lifecycle span analysis is used for all products and
services. Criteria are decided upon in an open process with
experts from the business world, environmental organizations and
authorities. Before the criteria are accepted by the Nordic
Eco-labeling Board they are publicized for review and comments.
The Nordic Eco-labeling Board makes the final decision on which
Nordic criteria will be implemented in the Nordic countries.
7. What kind of analysis is made?
We have criteria for the use of chemicals, the amounts of discharge to the air, water and ground that the product produces, as well as energy usage and waste procedures. We also investigate quality and functionality aspects of the product. The criteria are totally comprehensive; from raw material selection, to the manufacturing process, and ultimately to disposal of the product.
8. Does the same criteria always apply?
No, criteria are revised for the different product groups on an average of every 3-4 years. Products must fulfill the new criteria and companies must re-apply for a license. This forces companies to continue research and development, upgrade existing equipment, and create new innovative products. This ensures increasingly environment-friendly products, in line with technological progress and the latest research findings.
9. How does a product or service get Eco-labeled?
In order to receive a Nordic Eco-label license the product or service must meet criteria requirements from one of the 66 product criteria areas, and for the specific product group. Each company must provide, among other things, independent testing results and documentation for the specific product. A control visit will also be made. If approved, the product or service may carry the Nordic Eco-label.
10. Do these products have the same quality as non-Eco-labeled?
Yes, Nordic Eco-labeled products must be as good as equivalent
products that do not carry the Nordic Eco-label. Products must
meet certain quality and functionality requirements. A detergent
for example, must wash clothes clean at low temperatures,
furniture must pass durability tests and toner cassettes must
print at the highest quality.