Bio-Based Products: Suggestions for Ecolabel Criteria and Standards in Line with Sustainable Development Goals

Bio-Based Products: Suggestions for Ecolabel Criteria and Standards in Line with Sustainable Development Goals

Simone Wurster, Luana Ladu, Dhandy Arisaktiwardhana
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJSR.2019010102
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Communicating the related environmental benefits of bio-based products to consumers represents a key component of their market uptake. In this regard, the use of ecolabels ISO 14024 Type I play a crucial role. This article identifies and analyzes different criteria proposed by ecolabels for conducting a sustainability assessment of bio-based products considering its entire lifecycle. A comparison of the selected criteria with existing indicators ruled out by the SDGs is proposed. Through expert consultation, the suitability of existing ecolabel criteria for bio-based products has been tested for four applications of biobased products: food packaging from PLA; biobased automotive components; bio-based mulch film; and bio-based insulation material.
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Introduction To The United Nations Sustainability Goals, Ecolabelling And The Bioeconomy

In 2016, the United Nations’ Sustainability Goals (SDGs) were proposed and designed, comprising 17 worldwide agreed goals to make planet earth more sustainable.

The importance of environmental labelling was recognized in 1992, during the Second Earth Summit (Rio Summit). The resulting Agenda 21 mentions environmental labelling as a tool to promote Sustainable Development (SD) (Horne, 2009; United Nations, 1992).

Ecolabelling provides consumers with explicit information about the environmental performance of a product and directs their buying behaviour toward sustainable choices (European Commission, 2012). It plays also an important role as a government policy instrument to establish information guidelines for consumers on sustainable consumption (BIO Intelligence Service, 2012; Schader et al., 2011). Therefore, ecolabels address the goal of sustainable consumption and production patterns, corresponding to the 12th goal of SD (United Nations, 2015). This article will show further links between ecolabels and the SDGs.

Various links between the SDGs and the bioeconomy have been identified by previous publications. While Gawel et al. (2019) argue that the bioeconomy has a positive impact on the SDGs, others argue that its application has both positive and negative impacts on the achievement of SDG targets (see Heimann, 2019, Nunes et al., 2016). For this reason, bioeconomy products with positive environmental impacts require appropriate communication and marketing tools in order to convince the consumers of its benefits.

Bio-based products are one of the bioeconomy sectors (European Commission, 2012, p. 5). According to CEN (2014), they are defined as products produced entirely or partly from biomass (plant, forestry or animal origin).

A key component for the market uptake of bio-based products is to communicate the related environmental benefits to the consumer. Ladu and Blind (2017) argue that labels, in particularly ecolabels are an essential vehicle to communicate the benefits of bio-based products to consumers, especially if predefined sustainability criteria are met and verified through a certification process.

This article starts with a literature review, followed by information on the research objectives and methodologies. Afterwards, selected ecolabel criteria are described and suggestions for ecolabel criteria and labels for a number of bio-based products in line with the SDGs are made. The article ends with suggestions for further steps and conclusions.

This research was carried out within the framework of the EU project STAR-ProBio (, Grant Agreement Number 727740). It was supplemented by additional literature and an outlook on the German project ConCirMy (Configurator for the Circular Economy, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, funding code: 033R236E ReziProK). This article makes use of material presented by the authors at the EURAS Conference 2019.

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