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Greenwashing survey on World Ecolabel Day

8 October is World Ecolabel Day - the international day for national Ecolabels. Independent, governmental Ecolabels are based on transparent criteria and sound third-party verification and are a credible barrier against greenwashing. What is your opinion? Support your colleagues by answering a short questionnaire.

Relevance of Ecolabels

Although the survey was primarily concerned with the topic of greenwashing, the awareness and importance of governmental Ecolabels such as the Austrian and European Ecolabels was initially surveyed. The result of the (unrepresentative) survey was positive: 94 percent of the 152 participants are familiar with the Austrian Ecolabel, 75 percent with its German counterpart, the Blue Angel. Also the European Ecolabel is still known by more than 50 percent.

State labels apparently play a similarly important role in consumption: 30 percent state that certification is very relevant for their purchasing decision - for 56 percent this is more relevant. In addition, 61 percent state that their consumer behaviour has changed in recent years and that they now pay more attention to products with Ecolabels. 29 percent state that this has always been important to them anyway.

Respondents consider it particularly important to be awarded an Ecolabel in the field of cleaning products and personal care, followed by textiles and shoes. The areas of house and garden, construction, energy, children's toys, catering and tourism follow at some distance. Although the survey is not representative, the clear sentiment is that Ecolabels are well known and play an important role in shopping.


Labels convey credibility. This is exactly what the survey showed, as 95 percent of the participants stated that products are much more or rather more credible in terms of their environmental friendliness/sustainability if they carry a national Ecolabel. There is also a high level of agreement with the statements that products with an Ecolabel are "important", "worth a closer look", "an aid to purchase" and "a sign of responsible consumption". 88 percent of those surveyed also stated that those companies "very" or "rather" credible are also those that have certified products on offer.

However, since there is a wide variety of different labels, from governmental Ecolabels to industry labels to "fake" labels, 71 percent consider tests by independent institutions (such as the VKI) important to bring clarity and credibility into the label jungle. In addition, 85 percent are in favour of legal provisions regarding environmental claims, including sanctions in the event of non-compliance. More than 80 percent of the participants can also imagine mandatory certification in case environmental friendliness/sustainability is advertised.


The survey also addressed what greenwashing means to the respondents personally. For 90 per cent, greenwashing occurs when a product or company is actually not as environmentally friendly as it claims to be. 69 percent consider it greenwashing when companies advertise green activities that have nothing or only marginally to do with their core business. And 64 percent are angry when a product advertises aspects that they have to comply with anyway under current legislation. In addition, 60 % are critical of non-sustainable companies that use green products to give themselves a green coat and intentionally serve a green niche.

How do government Ecolabels help?

So back to the starting point, World Ecolabel Day. State, i.e. independent Ecolabels such as the Austrian or European Ecolabel guarantee that they are verified by independent, external auditors. The criteria for awarding the labels are transparent and publicly available. These two core aspects guarantee independence on the one hand and traceability on the other. A number of aspects are checked in the course of certification - which means that false statements can easily be put a stop to. At the same time the use of the label is regulated - so it must not be used incorrectly in communication. Thus, governmental Ecolabels such as the Austrian or European Ecolabel help to combat greenwashing - by providing orientation for consumers and scoring points with high awareness and credibility. Due to their broad-based criteria, they also cover a wide range of environmental aspects that need to be taken into account. And the survey shows that eco-labelled products put a stop to greenwashing simply by ensuring that products meet these criteria.