Out of the crisis with the Austrian Ecolabel

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Austrian Ecolabel on 25 June 2020, licensees of the most important state-certified Ecolabel presented solutions from the fields of travel, gastronomy, film and TV production, office, energy & mobility, cleaning, housing and finance and showed how to sustainably get out of the corona and climate crisis with environmentally friendly business management.

The Austrian Ecolabel stands for a consistent orientation towards environmental protection and sustainability and has thus been shaping the green side of the Austrian economy for 30 years. Only those environmentally friendly services in the fields of products, tourism, education and green meetings & events receive the award that meet a number of environmental criteria as well as high standards of quality and durability. At a press event on 25 June 2020 at the Austria Trend Parkhotel Schönbrunn, representatives of Ecolabel licensees showed how economic success and environmentally friendly business management can be combined.

With sustainable energy & mobility against the climate crisis

Heavy Pedals provides low-emission transport in Vienna's city centre by means of a cargo bike and serves the so-called "last mile", i.e. the last few kilometres to the delivery address. Incoming deliveries are bundled centrally - up to one euro-pallet and 250 kg payload per wheel are possible. "Equating the corona crisis with the climate crisis is a bold step. As a company, we have overcome the corona crisis very well, as we can be classified as systemically relevant in all areas. With regard to combating the climate crisis, we and our employees have been making a major contribution for 10 years now. We are happy to make our know-how and experience available in various research projects. In this way we can work together with our partners towards a better future", Florian Hofer, Assistant to the Management Board Heavy Pedals, emphasized the advantages of sustainable management. From the point of view of oekostrom AG, which has been relying on electricity from 100% renewable sources in Austria since its foundation in 1999, an energy supply company that invests exclusively in renewable projects offers the highest level of security for consumers who consciously want to choose environmentally friendly products and services. "The award of the Austrian Ecolabel is not only an orientation for consumers, but also offers great advantages for companies. For example, the wheat is separated from the chaff, especially in the case of eco-labelled electricity, and the strict criteria and continuous monitoring also give electricity consumers the security of a label they can actually rely on," explained Andreas Pribyl, Key Account Manager at oekostrom AG.

Environmental friendliness in the household & living area

To develop, produce and successfully distribute sustainable detergents and cleaners in Austria and for Austria is the goal of the company PERNAUER, founded in 2012, which from the very beginning has focused on compliance with the guidelines of the Austrian Ecolabel. "All product innovations and site improvements of the last eight years can be assigned to one of the three pillars of the Austrian Ecolabel - optimization of raw materials, packaging materials and cleaning performance to protect water, the environment and people. Today, most of the 'EU Ecolabel & Austrian Ecolabel' cleaners and detergents available in Austria come from Pernau in Wels", emphasised PERNAUER Managing Director Manfred Schmirl. Another important contribution to a healthy living environment has been made since 1965 by the company SEFRA FARBEN, which produces high-quality interior wall and facade paints in Oberwaltersdorf near Baden, many of which carry the seal of approval. "In Austria, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to present the Ecolabel, a uniform award for sustainably environmentally conscious wall and facade paints. These products are actively controlled by the OFI and thus guarantee Austrian consumers the highest quality standards and create security for the processor," explained Christian Seidler, managing partner of Sefra Farben- und Tapetenvertrieb Ges.m.b.H. "Sustainable solid wood kitchens focus on the careful selection of local woods, environmentally friendly processing and a breathable surface. The "Salzburger Tischler Küche" is a collective of five carpentry businesses that counteracts global crises with regional sustainability and combines the philosophy of the Ecolabel with economic success. "The path of a "Salzburg Tischler Küche" starts in the surrounding forest, leads through processing in the neighbouring sawmill to finishing in the regional carpentry workshop and finds its destination with customers from all over Austria", says Fritz Schwab, master carpenter and part of the cooperation group. The trend is clearly in the direction of a custom-made joiner's kitchen made of the natural material wood, with ecologically healthy and at the same time resistant surfaces.

Green pioneer in film and TV production

SUPERFILM Filmproduktions GmbH, founded in 2006 by John Lueftner and David Schalko and based in Vienna and Munich, tested the criteria catalogue for the Austrian Ecolabel Directive for "Green Producing" for feasibility and put it into practice on the basis of the filming of the ORF country crime thriller "Höhenstraße". Since then, Superfilm has produced all projects (feature films, TV films, TV series and shows) according to these Green Producing criteria. "Superfilm has been involved in climate protection for years and is a pioneer in the Austrian film industry. From our point of view, the topic affects everyone and is really important and feasible in the industry. In the beginning this was new territory, but soon 'Green Producing' became a matter of course for us. Everyone should make their contribution to a better environment", emphasized John Lueftner, managing partner of SUPERFILM.

Environmental turnaround in the financial sector

With the recently revised Ecolabel Directive for green financial products, savings and giro products can now also be labelled alongside funds. Raphael Fink, Ecolabel expert at the Association for Consumer Information (VKI), played a key role in the new directive: "The success of the Ecolabel for sustainable financial products shows that the issue of sustainability has finally arrived in the mainstream of the financial world. An ecological turnaround cannot succeed without the financial sector - green financing and investments are needed to meet the major challenges of the near future, keyword climate change. A state-owned and therefore credible and strong label such as the Austrian Ecolabel can make a major contribution to this through appropriate criteria and requirements". The first licensee under the revised directive is Raiffeisenbank Gunskirchen. "The Ecolabel for sustainable financial products, which has been extended to include savings and giro products and which we were the first bank in Austria to be awarded, creates clarity and gives investors the assurance that the money is really being invested ecologically and sustainably", Hubert Pupeter, Chairman of the Managing Board of Raiffeisenbank Gunskirchen and founder of the Environmental Center, emphasized the significance of the Ecolabel.

Producing office supplies in a climate-neutral way

The two companies COLOP and Trodat, both from Wels, demonstrated that environmental protection is not neglected in the office sector either. "In our view, true environmental and climate protection orientation manifests itself in companies dedicating their main business, i.e. their standard products, to environmental and climate protection, thus maximising the positive effect on the environment and climate. The path Trodat has chosen to offer its main products in a climate-neutral way is therefore exactly the right one and is clearly preferable to offering green by-product lines because of the more positive effect on the climate", says Andreas Poimer, Head of Trodat International Marketing & Product Management. "COLOP develops and produces a large proportion of its stamp products at its headquarters in Austria or in the EU area and has been making a voluntary contribution for many years that goes beyond the high EU and national requirements. With our 'Green Line' products, we are noticing that there is strong demand among customers for environmentally friendly product alternatives, said Ernst Faber, Managing Director of COLOP.
Erich Graf, Head of Sales and Marketing at Eurotoner, sees a very important aspect in the fact that the products and services awarded the Austrian Ecolabel are mostly of Austrian origin or at least comply with Austrian specifications. "This gives the consumer security and confidence in the regional products. With closed borders and limited transport possibilities, the negative effects of dependence on production sites in near and far abroad quickly become apparent. For me, the often unnecessary transport represents a great environmental burden."

Regional focus in tourism

"It has become much more important to customers that regional value chains function well. Consumers want to support regional small businesses in a targeted manner. With the Ecolabel requirements, this regional focus is totally in the foreground and that comprehensive access to this topic is necessary. The criteria run through all areas of the hotel. In order to make a contribution against climate change, we have, among other things, made special use of natural materials in the construction of our new residences and, for example, we have installed an air-heat pump instead air conditioning" said Marion Hutter, Sales and Marketing Manager Vila Vita Pannonia. The increasing demand for organic products is encouraging the tour operator Mondial to keep the benchmark of ecological quality standards high. "In this way, we want to keep the tourism value chain transparent in an ecological sense and ensure that our guests really do get a fair travel experience", said Gregor Kadanka, Managing Director of Mondial Reisen, adding that sustainability is not a trend but an attitude to life. The seal of approval obliges to adhere to strict ecological guidelines in the provision of services. At Austria Trend Hotels, eight hotels of the Verkehrsbüro Group already carry the Austrian Ecolabel. "Environment and climate protection concern us all and will affect us even more directly in the future. Environmental protection will also have a far greater influence on booking decisions in future", Michael Kröger, Managing Director Verkehrsbüro Hotellerie GmbH - BASSENA & Austria Trend Hotels, is well aware. Waste reduction, efficient use of energy, gentle cleaning agents, reduced water consumption, careful handling of food and regional purchases are all part of the environmental concept of the certified Green Hotels.


Gastronomy: Cost savings thanks to certification

CUP SOLUTIONS has been offering its customers a tailor-made full service for all aspects of returnable cups since 2006 and has been awarded the Austrian Ecolabel for "returnable containers and returnable cup systems" since 2013. "For CUP SOLUTIONS, being awarded the Austrian Ecolabel means above all credibility, in order to offer customers or end consumers the opportunity to distinguish between sustainably reasonable and less reasonable systems in a jungle of (supposedly) ecological dispensing solutions", said CUP SOLUTIONS operations manager Christina Teubl. As one of the leading catering companies in Austria, impacts Catering has been committed to sustainability from the very beginning. "For us, the highest quality of food from regional, seasonal and organic farming is at the heart of our sustainable catering concept," emphasized Managing Director Christian Chytil. A major advantage of certification with the Austrian Ecolabel are the management tools that enable a comprehensive performance analysis: "We are increasingly realising that ecological measures also bring enormous cost savings, for example through low energy consumption", said Chytil. At impacts Catering, the concept of recycling management is applied throughout the entire operation - from green electricity for the canteen kitchen, which is produced by the company's own photovoltaic system, to waste avoidance and the use of electric cars. The Restaurant Luftburg in Vienna's Prater is committed to sustainable enjoyment and environmental protection and was certified with the Austrian Ecolabel in autumn 2019. "Sustainability and respect for the environment are central themes that are continuously developed and lived out in our environmental concept - because the future lies in our environment," says Paul Kolarik, Managing Director of Kolariks Freizeitbetriebe, which includes Luftburg. At the beginning of 2019, the Luftburg was converted to a completely organic operation. A sustainable value chain with regional suppliers and seasonal products are essential components of the gastronomy concept. "It is also a fact that environmentally conscious action can greatly reduce costs. The savings in energy costs, water and waste charges alone can save a lot of money and do something good for the environment at the same time. Buying seasonal and regional organic products saves long transport routes, offers more freshness and a pleasurable feeling for the guest," says Kolarik about the economic advantages that can be achieved through sustainable business management.

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A reliable guide to environmental and climate protection for 30 years

For Austrians, the Austrian Ecolabel is a guarantee for environmentally friendly products and contributes to easier environmentally friendly shopping. Products and services that receive this award meet strict environmental criteria that must be verified by an independent overall assessment.

A total of 1,100 licensees from a wide range of industries have already been awarded the Austrian Ecolabel, underlining the dynamic development and high acceptance of the Ecolabel. In the tourism sector, the Austrian Ecolabel stands for consistent sustainable business management in award-winning hotels, restaurants, campsites and refuges as well as at various events organised as Green Meetings or Green Events. Excellent schools, kindergartens and educational institutions stand for a new quality in educational work. For all of them, climate protection and lived sustainability is an important concern.