Environmental labels - between greenwashing and responsible action -- drupa - May 28 to June 7, 2024 - Messe Düsseldorf

Environmental labels - between greenwashing and responsible action

The situation with environmental labels is similar to that with energy or organic certificates. Many consumers now know that not everything that appears green is green. So to put print products in the green light, print companies should look closely at and evaluate environmental labels before using them. It is also important for print customers to know about the existing labels and choose the right one. For a long time, it is no longer the wallet alone that decides. Society is keeping its eyes open. Climate-neutral action has become a purchasing criterion.

A huge range of choices - eco-labels as far as the eye can see

There are now over 100 labels in the print world, all of which approach the topic of environmental friendliness and sustainability with a different view. We have summarised the most important ones for you and added the conclusion of the expert opinion for you.

1. The Blue Angel

The Blue Angel is the oldest environmental label for print products. The certificate determines the award by applying various criteria, such as resource protection, use of chemicals, environmentally friendly use of finishes and inks.

Since 1 February 2015, there has been the Blue Angel for printed products (RAL-UZ 195), which additionally sets requirements for the environmental friendliness of printing processes.

2. Certificates Climate-neutral printing

  • Climate Partner
  • Klimaneutral gedruckt
  • My climate neutral
  • Print CO2 tested
  • And more

The various labels, as the name suggests, refer to climate neutrality of print products. They determine the CO2 emissions and evaluate the CO2 footprint of a company. The label can also be worn if you have high CO2 values in the printing process but contribute to offsetting CO2 in other ways.

This is also the reason why many of these labels are criticised for "greenwashing". Whether one sees it this way, however, should be left to one's own attitude. Supporting a climate protection project with full commitment is certainly commendable and deserves recognition.

As a customer, you can tell from the award whether the company is participating in a compensation programme. The companies then receive the graduated award "Company CO2 compensated".

3. Energy management standard ISO 50001

The International Energy Management Standard ISO 50001 certifies companies that continuously and systematically optimise their energy-related performance. The standard describes guidelines for a path to complete climate neutrality without deviations

4. EU ECO-Label Policy „028 Druckerzeugnisse“

The EU ECO-Label Guideline 028 Printed Products is a comparative seal. If a product or service performs better on average than comparable offers, it is marked with the label. As a printer, you also receive this label.

5. FSC

In the printing world, the FSC seal is widely known. As a buyer of products bearing the FSC seal, you can see that the manufacturer participates in reforestation projects and also only uses wood fibres from environmentally sound as well as sustainable forestry.

6. PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes)

The PEFC label is the counterpart to the FSC certificate. Wood and paper products with the PEFC label demonstrably originate from ecologically, economically and socially sustainable forest management.

7. ISO 14001

The ISO 14001 standard certifies companies that operate an environmental management system and meet the requirements of the standard.

8. Ecoprofit

Ecoprofit is a cooperation project between companies and municipalities. It is considered the entry point for the EMAS and ISO 14001 environmental management systems and is even partly state-subsidised. In contrast to other certifications, the focus here is on the ecological efficiency of a company. This is to be increased while at the same time operating costs are reduced.


Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a European environmental management system (EMS). The ISO 14001 standard is integrated into the EMS. Further requirements of this ISO standard are placed on the company's procedures and systems. At the same time, the company's environmental performance is evaluated.

Note: There are other regional funding programmes of the state governments. However, due to their regional character, we will leave them out.


The online register Umwelt Index Druck evaluates printing companies for sustainable and environmentally conscious behaviour. In addition to the certificates, production-specific and voluntary environmental performance of the companies is also evaluated.

UmDEX publishes a list in which it checks and evaluates all printing companies for environmentally conscious behaviour. The register is a support for every buyer who wants to act environmentally conscious himself.

Beware of the outright abandonment of eco-labels. No label is a revelation

Jürgen Zietlow from UmDEX also gives a clear warning. He cites various studies that show the risk of making oneself unpopular with end consumers with "white label" productions. After all, the end consumer now also sees at first glance that an environmental label is missing and questions this critically.

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