*Original article published by Confebask (link)

The ecological transition is already a reality, both because of its prevailing necessity and because of its incipient materialization. The business world cannot, and should not, stay aside from this phenomenon. Companies have reasons not to be left behind and start moving.

For responsibility social, companies, as social agents that are also must contribute with their businesses and activities to the improvement of society and enviroment.

By profitability economy, those businesses that do not make the transition their own will be out of the market in the next decade.

Those companies that They have not been able, or have not been able to adapt to the market, they have been left out. Today the market tells us that the environment cannot be left out of the production and commercial processes. The environment happens to become a key element.

Demand for products and green services are continuously increasing in the European market, as well as in the Basque.

49% of Basque industrial companies estimate [in 2011] that in the next three years they will increase the demands of environmental requirements by Your clients. (Source: Industrial Ecobarometer 2011. Department of the Environment of the Basque Government).

The legislation to all administrative scales, from the European to the local level, is demanding greater protection of the environment. The public standards of recruitment are even going beyond such legislation.

21.5% of the companies consulted by Confebask have made improvements in the efficiency of their resources motivated by the legislation, regulations or standards in force.

Every time they are sued more guarantees that the activity and products that the private company offers public administration are not harmful to the environment.

62% of entrepreneurs stated that sustainable investments were motivated by consumer expectations of green products. (Source: European Commission, Accenture, 2012)

There are several ways to prove to the administration and to the consumers that the services and products offered meet environmental standards. Many of them pass or either by eco-labelling or by environmental management systems.


Regarding eco-labelling This is presented as the best way to combat greenwashing as well as other practices. It also allows the company and its products, position on environmental issues. However, the presence of up to 400 different labels globally generates confusion both between companies as between the consumers.

In this situation, The companies have to know which are the useful labels in the markets in which they move. Type I eco-labelling (see types of eco-labeled) is the most common in the Basque market. among all of them in Euskadi the eco-label par excellence is the European flower or eco-label European.

The eco-labelling of the European Union is one of the most recognized labels within the union and with incipient incidence in the rest of the world.

From Government Vasco is betting on this eco-label for its standardization international and social recognition. 65% of those interviewed by the European Ecological Barometer has confidence in the European eco-labelling.

The European ecolabel exists since 1992 and recognizes those products and services (except the food, beverages and pharmaceuticals sector) that throughout its entire life cycle life (extraction, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal) generate less impact on the environment. That is, it highlights those products/services that They are more respectful than others of the same category.

In the Basque Country there are 18 companies that have a European eco-label in up to a total of 115 products.

Figure 1. The most relevant type I ecolabel in Europe. Source: Practical guide on the use of environmental certifications in the purchase and public contracting of IHOBE.

Consumers are confused by the unparalleled and diverse stream of environmental information. 59% think product labels do not provide enough information, and 48% think that the labels are not clear. (Source: Eurobarometer 367, 2013)

This eco-label appears associated with a wide variety of products. Among Basque products, cleaning items, furniture, DIY and stationery are most relevant. It also certifies the service sector, although its use is less widespread. Companies in the service sector tend to certify the entire entity through environmental management systems.

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of the types of products that have the European eco-label in the Basque Country. Source: Progress of the Eusakdi Circular Economy Strategy. IHOBE. February 2020

Environmental Management Systems:

Like the EU Eco-labelling EMS are other voluntary regulations that support producers and organizations that go beyond what is required by the legislation in their efforts to protect the environment and the quality of life.

Among them stands out the European system EMAS, SGMA for which the Basque Government is committed, due to its international recognition and for being the system that certifies a commitment strictest of companies with the environment.

Figure 3. Number of European venues and organizations that have EMAS, from 2005 to 2014. Source: Report on the voluntary participation of organizations in a community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) on the EU Ecolabel, European Commission.

From large corporations to small companies, the EMAS collects and evaluates all areas of the company in environmental matters, be it consumption, emissions or the means of transport used by the workforce, among other things.

The assessment is cyclical, this allows a progressive evolution to correct practices less environment friendly.

Figure 4. Basque entities and centers that have EMAS, updated data for February 2020. Source: Progress of the Eusakdi Circular Economy Strategy . IHOBE.

Having an EMAS allows us not to forget or set aside the ecological transition. Having this EMS is not limited to having a particularly sustainable product or services. It consists of continuously improving the activity of the company and its relationship with the environment.

In the Basque Country there are 120 centers and 29 public entities that have this management system environment, as well as another 68 private centers and 55 entities. annually on The Basque Government subsidizes the verification and successive renewals of Environmental Management Systems EMAS. Opting for this distinction, beyond environmental improvement, allows reposition the company before its customers, both unavoidable tasks in these times.

Figure 5. Procedure to follow within the company based on continuous internal evaluation. Source: European Commission.

Aitor Mingo Bilbao
MSc in Sustainable Cities