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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1960-1980 Environmental awakening

Our planet had already begun to show symptoms of overload and toxicity in the 1960s and 1970s. The highly toxic chemicals in the group called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were revealed to be an environmental time bomb. The substance was used in chemical building products, double-glazing units and electrical equipment. Problems associated with the use of mercury became visible, as did the effects of large-scale use of the pesticides DDT, Lindan and Klordan. There was major eutrophication due to phosphates and other emissions from agriculture, the paper industry and households.

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