New guide to green claimsEco labels and claims explained.

29 December 2005

Shoppers searching out bargains in the post-Christmas sales should beware of certain 'eco-friendly' logos that aren't all they appear, says a new government guide.

Sales of ethical products and services hit GBP 25.8 billion in 2004. But research shows that people are still confused by the many different labels and logos on goods.

To help cut through the confusion, a new pocket-sized guide has been produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Shoppers' Guide to Green Labels shows the main types of environmental labels that you're likely to find on products including washing machines, coffee, cars and footballs - and explains what they mean.

Consumers have 'vital role'

Environment Minister Elliot Morley said:'Individual consumers have a vital role to play when they are choosing which goods and services to buy. Some products really are more environmentally responsible than others - but it can be difficult to know which ones.

'A lot of companies use environmental labels and claims in one way or another as evidence of their commitment to the environment, and we certainly encourage them to provide information that's relevant and reliable. But consumers need to know what these labels mean and what claims they can trust. The new guide will certainly help, especially now as we enter one of the busiest shopping times of the year.'

Among the labels highlighted in the guide is the recently launched UK vehicle fuel economy label. The scheme is voluntary and was agreed between the car industry and government. The labels are starting to appear on all new cars.

This label shows how much carbon dioxide the car emits, along with the estimated fuel costs and vehicle excise duty, highlighting clearly that better environmental performance also means lower road tax and running costs.

To get your free copy of the Shoppers' Guide to Green Labels, see the Defra consumer products page, or or contact Defra Publications, Admail 6000, London, SW1A 2XX. You can also order by phone on 08459 556000 (calls are charged at local rates).