La régulation et l'harmonisation internationale des programmes d'écolabels sur les produits et les services
THE REGULATION AND INTERNATIONAL HARMONIZATION OF ECOLABEL PROGRAMS ON GOODS AND SERVICES Considering both trade globalization and the growing media coverage of the deterioration of natural resources and of the ozone layer, the average citizen has become more demanding as a consumer when it comes to the environmental quality of the products he purchases. In this context, the implementation of adequate labeling may become both a major competitive issue in the marketplace as well as a means of promoting sustainable development that will allow the inclusion of environmental considerations in production procedures and in individuals’ behavior and choices. Designed to inform both private and public consumers of a product’s environmental performance as compared to other products in the same category, the ecolabel is an excellent tool for the implementation of this new development paradigm. The ecolabel is a tool whose goal is to use markets in order to meet environmental goals. Presently, the ecolabel is the result of a « voluntary » step taken by a manufacturer who takes it upon himself to declare that his products are ecological through the use of different seals or phrases (« nitrate free », « ozone layer friendly », biodegradable). Alternatively, the manufacturer may ask an independent organization for the right to use an ecolabel, by following a preset procedure and respecting pre-established criteria. Since the end of the 1980s, many countries have set up ecological certification and ecolabeling programs : the « European ecolabel », the « Blue Angel » in Germany, the « Green Seal » in the United States, « NF » in France, « Eco-mark » in Japan, and the « Eco-logo » in Canada. For the last ten years, the ecolabel has drawn the interest of public authorities in Western countries. Over this same decade, Europeans have gained a level of expertise that today allows them to assume an international leadership role in the field of ecolabeling. In this context, several European jurists and economists have naturally become interested in the conditions linked to the development of this new tool for regulating production. Their studies show that the creation of a national policy of ecological labeling must be based on recognized standards – private or prescribed – so that the awarding of an ecolabel can be based on objective criteria. In the framework of trade liberalization, the development of such ecolabel programs must be carried out while, at the same time, an effort is made to avoid creating obstacles to international trade. Very little study has been devoted to the rules of international law that apply to this subject. This question is, however, central to the reflection which must be undertaken on ecological labeling’s development as a sustainable development tool. Our paper sets out to answer this question and to study the impact that the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) 14000 series of standards has had on the harmonization of national ecolabeling policies. Considering the impact of international law standards on the ecolabel’s development as a sustainable development tool, it is logical to make an in-depth analysis of the conditions of national ecolabeling policy harmonization at the international level.
Volume (Year): t. XVIII, 1 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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