8 min read

EU Ecolabel, Explained

Written by:

Christi Farrell, RA, Leed GA


December 20, 2023

Image source:

Studio Marlowe

The rise of environmental awareness has shifted consumer preferences towards sustainability, especially within the realm of interior design.

The European Union Ecolabel (EU Ecolabel), a certification mark recognized across Europe, is at the forefront of this eco-conscious movement.

Established in 1992, it signifies products and services that meet high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction, to production, distribution, and disposal.

This hallmark stamp aids consumers in selecting products that are not only less detrimental to the environment but also conducive to healthier living spaces.

What is the EU Ecolabel?

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label that promotes the production and consumption of products with a reduced environmental impact.

Administered by the European Commission, it covers a variety of product categories, including those used in interior design such as furniture, paints, varnishes, flooring, bed mattresses, and textiles.

Each of these products undergoes a rigorous assessment of its environmental impact, focusing on factors like energy consumption, emission levels, and the use and disposal of harmful chemicals.

Relevance in Healthy Interior Design

In the context of interior design, the EU Ecolabel is particularly relevant as it ensures that certified products contribute to healthier living environments.

The absence of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process of these products translates to improved indoor air quality and a lower risk of allergies and other health-related issues.

This is paramount, considering that average Europeans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, according to the European Environment Agency [source link].

For designers, architects, and homeowners, the EU Ecolabel serves as a reliable guide for selecting materials and products that support well-being and environmental preservation.

Using EU Ecolabel-certified products thus becomes not just an aesthetic preference but also an ethical and health-conscious decision.

EU Ecolabel and Sustainability

The EU Ecolabel criteria also take into account the sustainability of production processes.

This includes ensuring efficient use of energy and water, minimizing waste, and favoring the use of renewable resources and substances that are less hazardous to the environment.

Consequently, choosing EU Ecolabel products is synonymous with supporting sustainable practices in the industry.

Impact on Manufacturers

For manufacturers, obtaining the EU Ecolabel means complying with stringent environmental performance standards.

It can also be a powerful marketing tool that distinguishes their products as environmentally friendly options for consumers. However, manufacturers must be transparent, and their claims must always be backed by solid evidence and credentials.

The Certification Process

To obtain the EU Ecolabel, manufacturers must apply to the national body in an EU member state and provide comprehensive evidence demonstrating compliance with the label’s criteria.

The process involves both documentation review and on-site audits. Upon successful verification, the product is awarded the EU Ecolabel for a fixed period, after which the certification must be renewed.

Criteria for Certification

The performance criteria for the EU Ecolabel are regularly updated to adapt to the latest environmental science and market developments.

This ensures the label remains a reliable indicator of environmental excellence. Importantly, the criteria go beyond environmental concerns, also addressing issues such as product quality and performance, ensuring that consumers do not have to compromise on product efficacy.

EU Ecolabel-Certified Brands in Interior Design

Several brands in the interior design industry claim to have attained the EU Ecolabel certification.

These brands cover a wide range of products, from furniture and mattresses to wall paints and floor coverings. Some notable examples include:

  • Furniture: IKEA offers a selection of EU Ecolabel-certified furniture that promotes sustainable and healthy living environments.
  • Paints and Coatings: Tikkurila provides a range of eco-friendly paints with the EU Ecolabel, which contribute to better indoor air quality.
  • Flooring: Forbo's Marmoleum is an EU Ecolabel-certified product known for its natural ingredients and sustainable production processes.
  • Textiles: The STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification found in textiles by brands like H&M ensures environmentally friendly and socially responsible production processes.

Prospective buyers can look for the EU Ecolabel logo on the product or check the European Commission’s database for certified products and services.

EU Ecolabel and Indoor Air Quality

One of the significant concerns in interior design is the impact of products on indoor air quality.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from certain paints, finishes, and adhesives can significantly degrade air quality.

The EU Ecolabel sets strict limits on VOC emissions, ensuring that certified products contribute to a healthier indoor environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Can I trust that an EU Ecolabel-certified product is environmentally friendly?
A: Yes, products with the EU Ecolabel have been independently verified to meet rigorous environmental standards set by the European Commission.

Q: Does the EU Ecolabel only cover environmental aspects?
A: While the primary focus is on environmental impact, factors related to health and product performance are also considered in the certification criteria.

Q: How often is the criteria for the EU Ecolabel reviewed?
A: The criteria for the EU Ecolabel are reviewed every three to five years to incorporate advancements in environmental science and changes in market conditions.

Q: Is the EU Ecolabel recognized outside of Europe?
A: While the EU Ecolabel is a European label, it is widely recognized internationally and often influences eco-labeling standards in other regions.

Q: Can using EU Ecolabel-certified products really improve indoor air quality?
A: Yes, because the certification includes strict limits on harmful emissions, using these products can help maintain better indoor air quality.

Closing Thoughts

The EU Ecolabel offers a reliable, third-party-verified badge of environmental and health quality for interior design products.

As awareness about the importance of healthy homes continues to grow, certification frameworks like the EU Ecolabel not only guide consumer choice but also drive the industry towards more sustainable and responsible production practices.

Interior design is about much more than aesthetics; it's about creating harmonious, healthy, and sustainable living spaces.

The EU Ecolabel helps consumers and professionals in the industry align their values with their design choices, paving the way for environments that benefit both people and the planet.

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EU Ecolabel, Explained

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Christi Farrell

Christi is a licensed architect and interior designer specializing in sustainability. She enjoys teaching design and bringing transparency to the impact that furniture has on our planet.

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