Investigating the management challenges of the EU Ecolabel through multi-stakeholder surveys

Abstract

Purpose

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme that aims to reduce the overall environmental impact of organisations to boost sustainable consumption in the marketplace and facilitate a transition towards a more circular economy. The main issues connected with the management of this scheme have been rarely investigated in literature. This study aims to analyse the main managerial and technical challenges linked with the EU Ecolabel such as drivers, barriers and benefits, uptake, monitoring, product portfolios and other criteria.

Methods

We addressed this literature gap by administering multi-stakeholder surveys including consumers, Licence Holder’s and Non-Licence Holder’s companies, policy-makers and other main relevant organisations obtaining 442 responses.

Results and discussion

The analysis indicated the market drivers and benefits for Licence Holders, but recognised that increasing the marketing promotion of the scheme and boosting its synergies with other EU policies would attract Non-Licence Holders, which also claimed the narrowness of the EU Ecolabel portfolio as the main barrier for its adoption. Our results also confirmed the lack of demand for products bearing the EU Ecolabel, although stakeholders recognised a higher demand for environmentally friendly products. Our results pointed out the lack of a marketing/communication policy coordinated at the European level and the lack of an adequate monitoring system of the performance. Health/well-being products were recommended as main future EU Ecolabel products, while services and business to business products were not advised.

Conclusions

Our findings provided new insights on the issues connected with the management of an ecolabelling scheme that can be useful for academics, practitioners and policy-makers. We also provided recommendations for policy makers to develop a heterogeneous (but not too broad) portfolio, with a focus on consumable goods with a health/well-being connotation, to strongly increase the promotion of the EU Ecolabel at all levels and to accelerate harmonisation with other EU policies, especially Green Public Procurement. Future research may investigate the EU Ecolabel awareness by investigating consumers’ perception in the EU context or may focus on regulatory reliefs that help to boost the adoption of the EU Ecolabel.

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Communicated by Matthias Finkbeiner

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Marrucci, L., Iraldo, F. & Daddi, T. Investigating the management challenges of the EU Ecolabel through multi-stakeholder surveys. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-021-01866-5

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Keywords

  • Ecolabel
  • Circular economy
  • Green public procurement
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Consumption