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EcoTopTen – innovations for sustainable consumption

Kathrin Graulich

elni Review 2006, pp. 46-52.

Buying green products is neither easy for private consumers nor for public procurement authorities. Besides the common belief that green products are generally more expensive than conventional products there is the overall difficulty to identify green products. Therefore, the aim of the EcoTopTen campaign is to deliver a market survey of the most energy efficient products in Germany. Most of the analysed product groups deal with energy using products (EuP): refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, tumbledriers, cookers, televisions, notebooks, flat panel displays, printers, boilers and lighting equipment. For each product group, Oeko-Institut develops minimum criteria relating to environment, quality and costs. The criteria are based, as far as possible, on existing labels and product tests, like the European energy label, the German eco-label, as well as labels for green electricity or product tests published in the journal of the German “Stiftung Warentest”. EcoTopTen goes far beyond existing labels and consumer information schemes: it integrates environmental and quality aspects as well as annual life cycle costs. In doing so, Oeko-Institut promotes the further development from environment labels towards sustainability labels. At the same time, EcoTopTen already works in a similar way as the one set in the requirements of the European Directive on Energy using Products (EuP) and thus delivers valuable experiences in this field. Additionally, Oeko-Institut promotes sustainable product development: sustainable innovation goals are communicated to manufacturers showing which advanced criteria relating to environment, quality and costs should be met by products in a few years. With EcoTopTen, Oeko-Institut finally provides a practical basis for policy approaches, e.g. similar to the Japanese Top-Runner concept. This concept makes environmental performance values of today’s most efficient products binding as a minimum standard for products in a few years – EcoTopTen gives an overview on today’s most efficient products.

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  1. Grießhammer R., Bunke D., Eberle U., Gensch C.-O., Graulich K., Möller M., Quack D. and Rüdenauer I. EcoTopTen – Innovations for sustainable consumption patterns (main project phase). In cooperation with Konrad Götz and Barbara Birzle-Harder, Institute for Social-Ecological Research – ISOE, Frankfurt a.M.; Freiburg.
  2. Graulich K., Bunke D., Eberle U., Gensch C.-O., Grießhammer R., Möller M., Quack D., and Rüdenauer I. The EcoTopTen consumer information campaign – Innovations for sustainable consumption patterns. (Commissioned by: German Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, Berlin, and the Legacy for the Future Foundation, Freiburg).
  3. Rüdenauer I. Refrigerators and freezers as EcoTopTen-products. Product sustainability assessment (PROSA) of refrigerators and freezers and deduction of criteria for the consumer.
  4. Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and the Council establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products and amending council Directive 92/42/EEC and Directive 96/57/EC and 2000/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. 2003/0172 (COD) LEX 628; Pe-CONS 3618/05. Strasbourg, 6 July 2005.