Transparency through Eco-Index?

Eco-Index is an environmental assessment tool that will enable companies to calculate the environmental footprint of their products at six lifecycles stages (blue graph) and make it transparent. The focus is on six environmental impacts (“lenses”), which are represented by the green graph. The final idea of the project is to produce a tag for the clothing.

The tool is still being developed by the Outdoor Industry Association and European Outdoor Association. However, it is open-source and can be used by every company. The developers promise “business cases” for companies that apply their tool: “Consumer demand for more sustainable products is mounting. Suppliers, brands, and retailers alike must be aware of the impact of their products throughout the product life cycle and actively seek to reduce their environmental footprint – or risk losing market share. For outdoor retailers, another challenge is wading through the wide variety of brand-specific sustainability measurement systems and labels currently in existence. The Eco Index will provide retailers with a common language and method for identifying the environmental impacts of the products and brands they carry.” (Link)

The tool sounds promising. It would, indeed, be very interesting, if it made companies start compete on lowering their environmental impact. The evaluation of the tool must certainly depend on how the tool is designed in the end and how the calcuation is done. At the moment eco-index is still a beta-version and under peer review, but the first phase is announced to be rolled out in early 2011. Some companies have criticized that it is moving on too slowly. Three stakeholders (Zero Waste Alliance, Portland Development Commission, Ceres) are involved.

It is great that companies initiate such a tool! But more stakeholders (like universities) should be integrated. Finally, to generate a level playing field, it might be important to make such a tool mandatory for all comapnies by governments or international agencies. This is why institutions like the EU should also look at the tool.

Check also what the Wall Street Journal wrote about the tool.

One Comment on “Transparency through Eco-Index?”

  1. […] which would be of some use to them. A good examples is Switcher’s Respect-Code or the Eco-Index. A label would not need to include all this information, but it should refer to an online database […]

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