Category 18 April 2019

Nordic Ecolabel – a Nordic Swan representing environmentally sound products and services

The Nordic Ecolabel, or Nordic Swan, is a voluntary labelling scheme that contributes to sustainable consumption. It takes into account a product’s whole life-cycle and evaluates its environmental impacts. The Ecolabel is predominant in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden; it pertains to 63 different product groups and services.

The challenge

The Nordic Ecolabel guarantees that climate requirements are taken into account, and that CO2 and other GHG emissions are limited. Criteria were developed that respond to the following environmental challenges:

Energy consumption and climate impactsUse of chemicalsProtection of biodiversityResource consumption and waste.


The measure

Products carrying the Nordic Swan meet extremely high environmental and often climate requirements. A product is evaluated against environmental impacts across the whole value chain and life-cycle, from raw material to waste. Criteria also pertain to quality, health aspects and performance/functionality. Each product group has general, as well as product-specific, requirements. 

The 63 product groups are e.g. comprised of appliances (white goods), cleaning products, grocery stores, hotels and restaurants, furniture, windows and exterior doors, or tyres. Even fuels are part of the product groups: Nordic Eco-labelled fuels are renewable and represent an alternative to fossil fuels, being ethanol, biodiesel, bio gas or blends of these. These fuels meet environmental requirements applicable to the entire supply chain – from raw material to ready-to-use fuels. The label has established an absolute limit value for the carbon footprint over the entire fuel life-cycle, including site selection, farming, manufacturing, transport and combustion.

A company can apply for the Nordic Ecolabel within any of the product or service groups. When granted a license, the company may use the Nordic Swan in all marketing activities. Following the award of a license, the applicant must pay an annual license fee based on the turnover of the eco-labelled product.

At the end of 2012, the Nordic Ecolabel had approximately 2,100 license holders. About two thirds of these are location-based services (such as hotels, supermarkets, car washes or printing shops), and one third are product groups. A 2012 survey demonstrated that 95% of Scandinavian consumers recognise the Ecolabel with the swan, and 78% have trust in it.

The Nordic Ecolabel was established in 1989 and is managed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental forum. The national offices manage license applications and grant licenses. Each Nordic country has local offices with the responsibility for criteria development, control visits, managing applications and granting licenses.

Lessons learnt (Barriers, Success factors)

The Nordic Swan is the most popular ecolabel in Scandinavia.  The Nordic Ecolabelling organisation indicates that the trademark is an effective and simple marketing tool that acts as guarantee of products having fulfilled strict climate and sustainability criteria. Many examples illustrate how the Nordic Ecolabel has strengthened companies´ marketing and selling campaigns. Actually, several world-leading companies are selling Nordic Ecolabelled products.

The Nordic Swan furthermore acts as a practical tool for raising consumer awareness and to help them actively choose environmentally sound products.

Further deployment

The Nordic Ecolabel is a demand side policy and estimated to be 9 on the GML scale. It is assessed and evaluated positive and is ready for deployment to other geographical areas.



The websiteNordic Ecolabelling Yearly Report 2012