The development and global implementation of a new environmental ratings system could make product comparisons easier for consumers across the world.
The US-based Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) announced on August 10 that it had partnered with Canadian Standards Association and international US-based group UL Environment, two leading standards organizations. The three groups intend to develop a series of new standards which can be used by governments, retailers and consumers worldwide to identify and promote environmentally responsible products.
The new standards of environmental efficiency will take into account not just the energy consumption of the product, but also its ecological impact across its lifetime. In a press release, the American and Canadian companies stated that they intended to develop a “metric that will instill consumer confidence.”
Increased transparency in environmental standards is needed as consumers become increasingly ecologically aware and manufacturers begin responding to their demands; it is not yet known when the firms will have completed drafting the new standards, or when they will be implemented.
Currently low environmental impact products are awarded under the Energy Star system and are available throughout America and Europe; energy-efficient EU products also carry a green flower symbol.
Consumer websites such as www.energystar.gov in the United States, www.energysavingtrust.org.uk in the UK and www.ecolabel.eu in Europe provide environmental ratings and information on a number of household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
It is hoped that development of a new system of environmental ratings could lead to a comprehensive global standardized environmental rating system, simplifying product comparisons for consumers and allowing them to avoid “greenwashing” or misleading ecologically oriented marketing.