Environmental Label PLUS / Umweltzeichen PLUS (UZ+): Extension of the Austrian Environmental Label towards Sustainability
Ecological orientation is increasingly completed and/or replaced by the concept of sustainability. This is reflected in political goals as well as in corporate strategies (CSR, sustainability reporting) and the demand and information needs of consumers and other stakeholders.
Since 1990 the Austrian Environmental Label (Umweltzeichen) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management is used for the distinction of products of high ecological quality and is awarded for about 50 product groups. The Environmental Label is the only official Austrian eco label in the non-food area and is well recognized.
To meet the comprehensive requirements of sustainability and simultaneously use the merits of the well established Environmental Label, the label should be extended towards sustainability (by the social and corporate dimension) to a "Environmental Label PLUS" ("Umweltzeichen PLUS", "UZ+"). The development of this label was subject of the project.
In an analytical phase international standards concerning sustainability research and labels were gathered, as well as the requirements of stakeholders (companies, auditors, Ministry of the Environment, consumer and employee organizations, NGOs, etc.), and the current structures of the Environmental Label were analyzed.
In the conceptual phase the basic model, methodology, criteria and the application processes of the UZ+ were defined, instruments (questionnaires, instructions) were developed and finally the draft version was tested.
Result is a relatively compact risk oriented model, which covers the social dimension of sustainability through the stakeholders employees, society, suppliers and clients along the entire value chain, involved in the fabrication and utilization of the product. The model contains the identification and evaluation of basic risks and the management of them.
An audit can be a voluntary add on to the existing Environmental Label as well as an obligatory element for products of high social relevance.
Mag. Reinhard Friesenbichler
Reinhard Friesenbichler Unternehmensberatung
Mag. Martin Beistein, Mag. Christian Loy
Project or cooperation partner
- DI Andreas Tschulik, Ing. Josef Raneburger
Bundesministerium für Land- u. Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt u. Wasserwasserwirtschaft, Abt.VI/5
- DI Christian Kornherr
Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI)