The Hungarian National Eco-labelling System

The Hungarian Eco-labelling system has been initiated by the Ministry of the Environment and Regional Development in 1993. The system was set up in accordance with Government decree 29/1997 (VIII.29.), which set up the guidelines for the operation of the system and established the Hungarian Eco-labelling Organisation, the main role of which is the co-ordination of the system. The objective of the Eco-labelling Organisation is to promote manufacturers and trade organisations in producing and distributing environment-friendly products and to inform the consumers about the environmental characteristics of the products and services.

From May 1st, 2004, when Hungary joined the European Union, analogously with all the other legal measures, the European eco-label regulation has came into force and the Flower label has been introduced. Adaptation of these measures has also asked for the harmonisation of the national environment friendly system in order to ensure co-operation and co-ordination between the two systems.  

The Hungarian 9/2004. (V. 25.) KvVM Government decree, amending the original 29/1997. (VIII. 29.) KTM decree, has modified the previous measure at several points. The new regulation applies to products and services produced or marketed in Hungary, thus it is not possible anymore to apply for the Hungarian environment friendly label with technologies.

Following the Union’s regulation, besides food products, beverages, pharmaceuticals and medical products, the highly poisonous, poisonous, carcinogen, mutagenic substances, materials detrimental to reproduction and environmentally dangerous products, or products harmful to consumers are also excluded form the use of the label.

The timeframe for reviewing product group criteria has been extended to five years instead of three years.

The constitution of the Evaluating and Assessing Committee, the Committee’s and the Organisation’s role has also been modified. It is still the Committee’s role to decide on the product group criteria, but in the development process the Ministry’s approach has a greater function than before. In order to enhance the participation of stakeholders, the proportion of consumer protection and environmental NGOs within the Committee has been increased.

To ensure a quicker assessment procedure (30 days) the decision mechanism has also been modified. According to the new decree the Environmental Minister’s decision about the right of label used is based on the proposal of the Organisation and not on the Committee’s. 

The Committee also collaborate in the work associated with the European eco-label and has a opining and proposer function in the development of eco-label criteria.  

The chestnut oak symbol has not been changed, but further information about the product’s environmental characteristics also has to be indicated.

Important new element of the regulation is that the use of “environment friendly” denotation on the product or on its packaging is bound to an assessment procedure. Thereby the possibility to put discretionary information about the product’s or service’s environmental characteristic on the product or on its packaging has been abated.