Eco-labelling is a voluntary system of awarding a logo to products judged to be less harmful to the environment than comparable products. Eco-labels inform consumers about a specific product/service, whereas certification schemes tell them something about the companies (or parts thereof) that produce the products/services.

An "eco-label" is a label which identifies the overall environmental preference of a product or service within a specific product/service category based on life cycle considerations. In contrast to green" symbols or claim statements developed by manufacturers and service providers. An eco-label is awarded by an impartial third-party in relation to certain products or services that are independently determined to meet environmental leadership criteria.

Why Eco-labelling?

  • Eco-labels can help tourism suppliers identify critical environmental issues, speed up the implementation of eco- efficient solutions, lead to effective ways of monitoring and reporting on environmental performance
  • While eco-labels can help sell tourism products, they also mark products and services that can decrease the use of resources such as energy or water and reducing costs for the operator
  • Eco-labels can play a direct role in linking socio-economic concerns with environmental protection. For example encouraging the use of more regional products would benefit the local economy and reduce the need for transport
  • Eco-labels can also help to raise awareness of environmental protection among the regional and local population as well as highlighting the importance of tourism for the environment in general

A simple labelling technique was introduced in tourism services of the island of Hiiumaa (Estonia) in 1996. Hiiumaa - an island in the Baltic Sea, rich by versatile, beautiful and intact nature and friendly people.
It was not easy to establish any strict rules and any controlling agency. Therefore the principle of the label was based on the "self-control" of an entrepreneur. The label is rather an information sign, not an "award".
Hiiumaa Green Label marks an accommodation or catering enterprise that is being managed in a sustainable way i.e. doing its best not to add to the impact on Hiiumaa`s clean nature.

The accommodation or catering enterprise undertakes to:

  1. Transform part of the garbage into compost or animal feed, sort out recyclable material (waste paper) or dangerous waste (old batteries)
  2. To minimize the production of waste by avoiding useless plastic and small packages
  3. Use water sparingly and also ask its guests to do it
  4. Use electricity sparingly and also ask its guests to do it
  5. Use nature friendly cleaning chemicals
  6. Appreciate the local Hiiumaa product and an Estonian product
  7. To be able to give information about nature and attractions of region


There has been a significant increase since 1990 in the use of eco-labels.

For example:

Number of Blue Flags for European beaches
(Source: Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe)

More on information about ECO-LABELLING you can find on Global Eco-labelling Network and the European Union Eco-label Homepage.