INESCOP launches new website2 June 2004
The Technological Institute for Footwear and Related Industries (INESCOP), in cooperation with the Federation of Spanish Footwear Industries (FICE), is developing diverse activities with the objective of making the European Eco-label for Footwear widely known in all the footwear manufacturing companies. One of these activities is INESCOP´s new website focusing on the European Eco-label for Footwear. Due to the arising public concern over the changes currently harming the environment surrounding us, there is an increasing demand for more environmentally-friendly products and services. For this reason, the European Union has created the European Eco-label, which differentiates those products and services that most respect the environment by means of a simple logo: a flower surrounded by the 12 stars of the European Union. One of the products able to obtain this Eco-label is footwear. Footwear holding the Eco-label guarantees that throughout its whole life cycle (from raw materials for production until its final disposition as residue), its impact on the environment is minimal, as they are within the limits established by the European Union. This guarantee is endorsed thanks to the Competent Bodies, which are designated by the government of each member state. They do not intervene in the market and they constantly check that footwear complies with the environmental requirements demanded. The European Eco-label is still largely unknown in the general sector. For this reason, INESCOP, within the frame of the European project LIFE-Environment 'Promotion of the Eco-label for Footwear (ECOFOOT)', has launched a new website where it is possible to research and find all of the most important aspects of the European Eco-label specifically applied to the footwear sector. The information is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Greek. This website, which can be visited directly at the address [http://www.ecoshoe.info], contains the most important information on the European Eco-label, for example: what it is, who can apply for it, applicable legislation, the competent bodies, test laboratories, ecological criteria for footwear, application process, fees, advantages of the Eco-label, information on companies that already have the Eco-label, accumulated experience, etc. In order to be able to obtain the European Eco-label for Footwear, certain environmental requirements need to be met, including the elimination of certain substances harmful to health and the environment (harmful dyes etc), the limitation of the amount of metallic residues such as chrome, arsenic, cadmium and lead, etc. Furthermore among the necessary requirements that footwear needs to meet in order to obtain the European Eco-label, there are diverse aspects concerning the footwear's durability, eg water resistance, abrasion resistance, wearing away of outsoles, etc… Therefore, footwear with the European Eco-label, along with the other environmental benefits, contributes to the reduction of water and air contamination, and decreases health risks by limiting or prohibiting certain compounds that could cause, eg some sort of allergy. In order to obtain the European Eco-label for footwear, certain laboratory tests need to be carried out and statements that verify that all the ecological criteria have been met are also required. One of the laboratories qualified to carry out such tests is INESCOP, who already have experience in providing advice for application of the Eco-label and in the carrying out of the laboratory tests, due to the fact that it has contributed to obtaining the first European Eco-label for Footwear, that turned out to be for a Spanish company. Included in the many advantages of voluntarily adhering to the European Eco-label system, there are the following: an improvement in brand image, an increase in customer loyalty, a reinforcement of corporate identity, its use as a promotion tool, etc. There are already six companies currently using the European Eco-label for Footwear, and recently an increasing interest has been observed in the footwear sector to obtain maximum excellence in its environmentally friendly products. It is important to insist that the Eco-label is a distinguishing element, however not too strict, since the majority of the proposed requirements for the Eco-label award are already mandatory in some markets and many products in the market already fulfil, or could fulfil them with a little additional effort.