Organic, eco and bio: how to recognize the advertising process in product labeling

    14 Aug 2021

    Let’s learn how to distinguish organic products from non-organic, without falling for a new trick of marketers called “greenwashing.”

    In stores for such kind of goods sometimes allocate whole shelves. It happens that the entire market is ready to vouch for the environmental friendliness of goods, adding to its name the prefix “ECO.” But are all these labels genuinely eco-friendly? Let’s check; thanks to Rubryka.

    It turned out that the “bioplastic” was actually even more harmful than conventional packages, and the claimed characteristics of the product have misled not only customers but also entrepreneurs. Such cases are not uncommon. Labels with the words “Natural product,” “Not tested on animals,” images of green leaves, and other promotional tricks force us to buy products that often do not meet the stated qualities. This is called “greenwashing” – green camouflage, which emerged as a tribute to the fashion for environmental friendliness, a new marketing move that increases the demand for a supposedly indulgent product. Often such markings do not make sense – they are not prohibited by law, do not directly declare the quality of the product, which means that no one will be able to prove that the next green sticker “ECO 100%” is a hoax, not a design element.

    What do we know about ECO or ORGANIC products?

    All labeling can be divided into two types: eco-labeling and organic labeling.

    Eco-products can be considered only that product, material, or product that has improved environmental performance, set by the relevant environmental standard. The fact that the product “Eco” says eco-labeling and the right to use it is granted only for environmentally certified products.

    Manufacturers can obtain a certificate and the right to use the eco-label if a competent, independent organization confirms the product’s environmental friendliness. To pass the environmental certification, the customer must provide the contractor with product samples and documents on the origin of raw materials, production, packaging, transportation, storage, and product disposal. The finished product and its life cycle are evaluated: components, production technology, and related environmental impacts. If the compliance with environmental criteria is confirmed, an environmental certificate is issued, which is the basis for using the eco-label.

    But there is also organic labeling, which speaks of the quality of the product and its components. Anastasia Le Huck, head of the marketing department of the Natur Boutique organic products store and organizer of the Organic Tour, explained that when choosing a product, it is better to focus on organic labeling, which informs about the quality of the product and its components. Organic products have crop production standards, animal husbandry, production of fish products, which they must meet. GMOs, sweeteners and flavor enhancers, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are prohibited in organic products. For example, 375 different E-supplements are allowed in the EU, only 45 for organic products, all of which are of natural origin. All these rules for the production of organic products are spelled out in IFOAM – the International Federation of Organic Movement. Products that meet IFOAM standards can be certified by independent bodies, and the process of obtaining such a certificate is quite long.

    A farmer who has established production following IFOAM applies to a certification body, which issues a permit for the use of organic labeling. After a certain period, it can last up to several years, during which the farmer grows according to environmental standards but does not yet have the right to label his product. This is followed by a transition period, and only after that, an organic certificate is issued.

    What labeling can be trusted?

    Eco-labeling programs operate in more than 50 countries around the world. There are about 456 such signs; they are collected on the Ecolabel Index website. About 80% of the existing eco-labels are combined in GEN (The Global Ecolabelling Network) – World Global Ecolabeling Network. (Don’t confuse with GEN – Global Ecovillages Network – Ecolife.) It is a non-profit association dedicated to the recognition of environmental indicators, certification, and labeling. Its purpose is to disseminate information on the meaning and benefits of labeling and ensure their mutual recognition.

    Also often there is a “Euro leaflet,” which provides information about the country of origin of goods, method of production – eco, bio or organic, control body, and the source of raw materials from which it is made.

    It is impossible to remember all markings. But there are ways to verify their authenticity. E.g., download the Ecolabel Guide application. It recognizes the eco-label on the photo; you can find out whether the label is reliable and what standards it meets. The application shows not only the labeling “eco.” Yes, it recognizes signs that indicate the possibility of recycling the product and gives information about whether it is vegan. This can be done directly in the store by scanning the icon on the product packaging.

    Usually, we buy the same set of products, so choose and remember those that really harm the environment and are natural will not be difficult.

    If you’re an entrepreneur, you can read Marketing-Guide for EU Ecolabel companies to make the EU Flower visible in your marketing here.We advise you to read a story about America’s great greenwashing in “Planet of the Humans” by Michael Moore review.

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