Published 19 April 2016
The paper in your printer, the newspaper you pick up every morning, the pages in the book you are reading… How can you tell if the paper you use has been made without causing harm to forests or the environment?
Paper brands are different – not just in terms of their quality, but also in their environmental performance. About 90% of Stora Enso’s own paper brands and several of our graphical board products have been awarded one or more ecolabels. This reflects our commitment to environmental protection and to our customers, who often request such labels as evidence of a product’s superior environmental performance. The labels we have obtained include the EU Ecolabel, the Nordic Ecolabel, and the Blue Angel. These labels all originally focused on the European market, but they are also widely recognised elsewhere.
High standards for high performers
Ecolabels are voluntary tools with strict criteria that showcase the reduced environmental impact of a product along its full life cycle, as compared to other products in the same category. Product categories covered by ecolabelling schemes range from paper products to electric devices and cleaning products – and even hotels.
The criteria for different ecolabels vary to some extent, but they typically cover all the relevant aspects of the life cycle of a product, from raw materials to waste. They are also designed to only reward the most environmentally sound products in each category, typically the top 10-30%.
“There are several indicators and thresholds a product must comply with to be awarded an ecolabel, including emissions, energy consumption, chemicals, waste management, and fitness for use, to name just a few,” says Kristiina Veitola, Sustainability Manager in Stora Enso’s Paper division. “Ecolabelling criteria also reflect local policy and market preferences to some extent. To qualify for the German Blue Angel, for example, over 95% of the fibres in a paper product must be derived from recycled paper. And of course, the need to provide evidence does not stop once an ecolabel is awarded, as the labelling criteria must be filled and data provided every year.”
Easier decision-making for customers – and their customers
Obtaining an ecolabel means extra work, but it’s worth the effort:
“In addition to showcasing that we have an outstanding product, we’re also enabling our customers - printing houses, office suppliers, and the like - to use the ecolabel. This way, it is easier for the end consumer to see which products are superior to others,” explains Klaus Barduna, SVP Sustainability in Stora Enso’s Paper division. “Ecolabels give valuable information to our customers and their customers about the environmental performance of our products, by providing trustworthy, third-party-verified recognition.”
The EU Ecolabel, the Nordic Ecolabel, and the Blue Angel are all well-known and trusted by consumers around Europe, and by the authorities. But their reputation is, in fact, global. “Perhaps surprisingly, we’ve received requests for these ecolabels from as far away as Asia, and from other markets that may not have their own relevant ecolabel,” says Kristiina Veitola. “This goes to show how widely the strict criteria behind these ecolabels are recognised and trusted.”