OECD Environment Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies on environmental issues prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal authors are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language English or French with a summary in the other if available.


A Review of Public Policies relating to the Use of Environmental Labelling and Information Schemes (ELIS)

This report provides a brief review of how national government policies and guidelines apply to or regulate the use of environmental labelling and information schemes (ELIS) in selected OECD countries. The report reviews definitions relevant to environmental claims and identifies four types of potentially false or misleading environmental claims. The report also reviews countries’ different approaches to guidance and regulations relating to such claims, as well as approaches to monitoring and enforcement of compliance with rules and guidance. Examples of court action relating to the use of consumer protection laws for environmental claims in several countries are described. Based on the reports available, it is not possible to assess to what extent the enforcement processes have been effective in improving the overall quality of environmental claims. The report also notes the extensive similarities in how different national guidelines categorise misleading environmental claims, perhaps beacuase many of the guidelines are derived in part from the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 14020 series of internationally-agreed standards. Moreover the report acknowledges that several attempts have been made towards harmonisation across countries concerning environmental criteria, mainly concerning eco-labelling schemes and organic agriculture standards. There appear to be strong incentives for this type of cross-country certification, including reduced administrative costs and a potential for increased trade of environmentally-certified goods. This makes further harmonisation of criteria for self-reported environmental claims a real possibility. The ongoing pursuit of harmonisation regionally, or bilaterally, might be a first step forward in such a process.


Keywords: information policy approaches, environmental reporting, Environmental claims, product environmental footprints, Ecolabels
JEL: Q56: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth; L15: Industrial Organization / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance / Information and Product Quality; Standardization and Compatibility; Q58: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Environmental Economics: Government Policy; F18: International Economics / Trade / Trade and Environment
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