About Bra Miljöval

Bra Miljöval is our ecolabel. It is referred to as "Good Environmental Choice" in English.

As consumers’ and voters’ representative, the Green Consumerism project of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation covers several approaches to deal with environmental aspects of consumption.

The active members that devotes their interest to local activities of the nation-wide campaigns such as the Annual Greening Campaign etc. are of vital importance to the work with green consumerism and ecolabelling. Together they form the green consumerism network.

Bra Miljöval is the ecolabel of SSNC. It is referred to as "Good Environmental Choice" in English. SSNC started ecolabelling in 1988 on laundry detergent and paper. See more about the work to get the market forces to take the environment into account. Currently the system covers 11 product areas.

SSNC’s ecolabelling of electricity delivery contracts started at the very beginning of 1996. Both supply and demand of the labelled services are expanding rapidly, also geographically. The same criteria are working in Norway and Denmark in cooperation with SSNC. In 2007 we launched criterias for district heat and got our first licensee in March 2008. The labelling of electricity and district heat is a part of the overall energy project of SSNC.

How does it work?

Drawing up sensible environmental requirements takes a lot of time and hard work.

Before a product is allowed to display the Good Environmental Choice eco-label it must meet certain requirements. These requirements or criteria, as they are called, are drawn up by various experts. They check the requirements carefully, work out how they might lead to improvements in the environment, and decide whether they will have an impact on the market. After several revisions the proposal is handed over to industry, the retail trade and the authorities to find out what their views are. It is important that everyone takes part and that no one feels victimised. Although the requirements may be stiff, they must not be unreasonable. Otherwise no one would get involved.

Before the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation draws up environmental criteria for a group of products, we first carry out a careful assessment of the environmental impact of the product. Every product affects the environment in several ways during the different phases of its life cycle. We must consider how the raw materials are extracted (or what is consumed in providing a service). We must also think about how the product is made and what happens to it when it has been used and discarded. This method of assessing the total environmental impact of a product is usually called a life cycle analysis.

A life cycle analysis is always based on assessments, and even if we have unlimited time and resources it will never give a clear cut picture of the environmental impact of a product. Models that weigh up one environmental hazard against another are often complicated and unclear. What’s more, the life cycle analysis is only valid at the time it was carried out, since new information and new environmental factors must constantly be taken into account.

The criteria also make allowances for the environmental expertise of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the potential that we and consumers have to influence the market. Eco-labelling will have the greatest impact if it is focused on the most important environmental problems.

We keep on raising targets

The criteria can entail setting limits for, or even prohibiting, one or more substances that are especially harmful to the environment. But it is important that the requirements are not too strict in the beginning. Some products must have a reasonable chance of meeting them, otherwise consumers will not find any eco-labelled products in the shops. Once eco-labelling has become established and most products have been adapted to the requirements, it is time to make them stricter. Then perhaps we can prohibit a substance completely, or focus on manufacturing processes or other aspects that have a negative influence on the environment. And so it progresses, step-by-step, as products become more and more environmentally adapted.

Tightening up and inspection

In order to be certain that products continue to deserve the eco-label, we carry out inspections by random sampling, or if we suspect that something is not quite right. Any manufacturer who cheats will lose his licence.

The Good Environmental Choice scheme also lays down rules for how the eco-label can be used, e.g. in advertising. The rules are intended to prevent consumers from being misled. Some companies are keen to give the impression that the eco-label applies to the whole company. But an eco-label applies solely to the product it was issued for.

Which products can be eco-labelled?

Drawing up sensible environmental requirements takes a lot of time and hard work.

To make eco-labelling a product worth while the product should therefore be fairly widely used. The nature of the product should also be such that it has a major impact on the environment.

Electricity and transport

It is not just consumer goods that affect the environment. Factors such as travel and electricity consumption also have major environmental consequences. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has therefore begun eco-labelling services. So far, criteria have been drawn up for passenger transport, goods transport and electricity supplies.

Transport creates a whole range of problems: noise, accidents, air pollution and waste. It uses large amounts of energy and resources, claims large areas of land and can create obstacles in the landscape or city environment. The criteria favour efficient transport. They also place requirements on the use of non-renewable energy, the manufacturing and distribution of energy that drives the vehicles, and correct disposal of materials when the vehicle is scrapped. They also set limits for emissions of acidifying substances.

As a result of the deregulation of the electricity sector, it has become possible for consumers to choose their supplier. This has also made it possible to set environmental requirements when we buy electricity. In order to use the Good Environmental Choice eco-label electricity generation must be based on renewable sources. Hydroelectric plants built before 1996, solar power, wind power and biofuel are all regarded as renewable energy sources by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.