30 Years of Swan History

Anniversary Report for the Nordic Ecolabel

image of 30 Years of Swan History

This is an account of the Swan label’s first thirty years, written in chronological order with short chapters each illustrating various aspects of the scheme. There are few areas of public life in which there have been so many vague pronouncements as for environmental protection. Perhaps that’s because it’s so easy to agree on the goals, but sohard to find the right solutions and practise what you preach. Here at the Nordic Swan, we’ve done things properly from dayone by setting concrete, measurable environmental performance requirements and turning the environment into a competitive advantage. There have been many conflicts and disagreements, but no one can deny that ecolabelling has led to significant environmental improvements. The Nordic region with its 30 million people is the world’s twelfthlargest economy, and this makes a difference when businesses plan product changes and marketing campaigns. The label is a success far beyond the borders of the Nordic region.

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1994 Boycott by soft paper manufacturers and SSNC leaves the board

The Nordic manufacturers of toilet paper and paper towels did not have a positive opinion on ecolabelling. They wanted to wait for the EU’s official ecolabel and were very critical of the Nordic Swan’s requirement for 90 per cent recycled fibre. In this case, the industry wanted requirements relating to emissions from the factories rather than a requirement for recycled fibre. On 30 August 1994, Aftenposten described how a unified industry, led by the industry organization Scansulfit, had decided to boycott the official ecolabel. The industry produced 250,000 tonnes of paper each year, so the environmental effects were potentially substantial, and this was a serious setback for ecolabelling at a Nordic level.

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