Overview of the array of ecolabels

Ecolabels are a popular marketing tool in the printing industry. They offer guidance and can positively impact purchasing decisions or a company’s chances in public tenders. With very few exceptions, the final printed product is the subject of certification, which requires not only a suitable printing ink but also compliance with a wide range of other specifications. Investigating the relevant award criteria in advance is essential, particularly as certification is subject to a charge and in some cases, different versions exist in parallel. Here is an overview of the current ecolabels for printed products.

We offer a wide range of ink series with ecological properties, which meet the requirements of international ecolabels as well as having good deinkability. Contact us.

Helga Gutzeit
Tel. +49 821 4603 118


Extreme PSO SF

This colour range has been evaluated against the criteria of the Material Health category of the Cradle to Cradle™-Product Standard and awarded the PLATIN level by the relevant Products Innovation Institute in San Francisco.

Power Protect

EU Ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary environmental quality seal that provides a standard identification of environmentally friendly products and services in the European market. The major advantage of the EU Ecolabel, which was initiated by the European Commission in 1992, is its international reputation: It is recognised in all 27 EU member states as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Today, about 70,000 products and services bear this ecolabel, from baby clothing to electronic devices. The award criteria for printed paper, stationery paper and paper carrier bag products are defined in Commission Decision (EU) 2020/1803. Representatives of the individual member states and other members from industry, retail, and environmental and consumer associations are involved in developing and reviewing the requirements. In Germany, the application and issuing of the label usage agreements is through RAL gGmbH.

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Austrian Ecolabel

The Austrian Ecolabel has been a state-awarded quality seal for the domestic green economy for more than 30 years. It identifies environmentally friendly products and services in the categories of products, tourism, events and education. At the same time, the public is informed about the environmentally polluting manufacture, use and disposal of consumer goods. For the printing industry, the relevant ecolabel is UZ 24 for printed and recycled products. In addition to general requirements for the company, the criteria focus on conserving resources in production and finishing. While the association for consumer information is responsible for drawing up the criteria, the certification is issued in close collaboration with accredited inspection bodies. The logo was designed by the famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and symbolises the four ecology elements: earth, water, air and nature.

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Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is an approach established since the 1990s aimed at a consistent circular economy in which materials are fed back into and remain in biological or technical loops. Full certification according to the Cradle-to-Cradle Certified® product standard involves being assessed in five categories: Material health, product circularity, clean air and climate protection, water and soil stewardship and social fairness. Within these categories it is possible to achieve five levels from basic to bronze, silver, gold and platinum. A contract must be concluded with an accredited assessor for the evaluation and preparation of the necessary documents. Following inspection and paid fee, the certificate will be issued by the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute with a re-certification process followed every two years.

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Blauer Engel

The Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) is one of the oldest ecolabels in the world and has identified particularly environmentally friendly products and services in Germany since 1978. In addition to the standards for DE-UZ 14, 56 and 72 for recycled substrates, the standard DE-UZ 195 for printed products is of particular note and is regarded as one of the strictest ecolabels in this sector. Certification consists of compliance with environmental standards for the used materials, in the production process and when returning the printed products to the recycling loop, as well as meeting requirements to minimise energy consumption, waste quantities and the emission of organic solvents. Companies must also demonstrate that the materials used, particularly printing inks and varnishes, comply with specific limit values with evidence provided by external laboratories. The criteria are revised at least every four years by the German Federal Environment Agency and the inspection and awarding of the certifications is performed by the independent RAL gGmbH.

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Nordic Swan Ecolabel

The Nordic Swan Ecolabel was introduced in 1989 by the Nordic Council of Ministers as a voluntary ecolabel system for the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It is now used in more than 50 product sectors. For printers and printed products, the ecolabel is focused on reducing the overall environment and climate pollution, and on promoting a good work environment. The criteria consist of a combination of compulsory requirements and a points system, whereby a minimum score must be achieved for certification, along with an audit. There are strict provisions on health and environmental risks with regard to print materials, although there are exceptions, for example, for UV printing inks. Applications for certification are submitted via an online portal and are then processed by an allocated adviser.

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