Elisabeth Köstinger

Minister of Sustainability and Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger: Protecting the environment and quality are the main objectives

Nowadays environmental protection plays an important role for a growing proportion of the population. In this context it has become clear that more and more people want to contribute to environmental protection through their personal consumption behaviour. However, for a balanced purchasing decision consumers often lack appropriate information. Moreover, they are made insecure by the abundance of "eco-stickers" in circulation.

For this reason the "Austrian Ecolabel" was created on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Environment in 1990. This label provides the general public with information on the environmental impact of consumer goods that arises from their production, usage and disposal and attracts the attention of consumers to alternative environmentally friendly products.

Eco-friendly products and services

The Austrian Ecolabel addresses itself primarily to consumers but also to the economy. The Ecolabel is intended to offer to the consumers a means of orientation when buying. The Ecolabel draws the consumer's attention to environmentally friendly of friendlier products among the goods that are offered. In this context environmentally friendly means "more environmentally-friendly than the current offer of other products fulfilling the same function". The aim is to influence consumer behaviour patterns with respect to demand of goods in such a way that preference is given to more environmentally friendly products.

Yet the Ecolabel should also motivate producers and traders to develop and offer less environment-polluting products. In this way a dynamic process shall be triggered off on the market, which would influence the supply structure positively towards more environmentally friendly goods (competition effect).

Furthermore, the Ecolabel contributes to more transparency in the evaluation of the environmental impact of products/services. Products carrying the Ecolabel have to meet a number of criteria (so-called guidelines), whose compliances have to be proved by an expert opinion.

Further, the label is carried by only those that are proven to be environmentally compatible products and which additionally exhibit a suitable fitness for use (quality). In this way the Ecolabel guarantees a high environmental standard without having to fear the loss of quality or safety.

In tourist enterprises the Austrian Ecolabel shall promote a conscious way of dealing with energy and water, as well as waste avoidance and reduction. Thus it will contribute to reducing the operating costs. Environmentally-friendly management contributes to the preservation of an intact nature and environment, which constitutes an important basis for tourism.

The goal of the Ecolabel in Education is to achieve a process of awareness- raising among all groups of persons involved, such as pupils, parents, teaching and non-teaching staff. Through the set goals and evaluation an internal quality increase of the educational institution is achieved.

The symbolism of the logo

The Austrian Ecolabel itself was designed by the Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who made his sketches available to the Ministry of Environment free of charge. In view of its creative symbolism (earth, water, air, nature) this very impressive label was registered by the Austrian Ministry of Environment, as a collective brand.