The Ecology of Electronics Eco-Labels

The number of environmental certifications and ratings has increased dramatically in recent years, and concerns have been raised that this proliferation is confusing and disillusioning consumers.  Some commentators have called for regulations to control the chaos.  This proliferation, however, may have important benefits that have previously been unrecognized.  This paper uses concepts from community ecology to explore these benefits in the context of how ratings and certifications interact within “information ecosystems.”

The paper uses these concepts to examine a set of 15 environmental certification and rating programs relevant to the electronics sector.  This sectoral case study highlights the interdependencies among these programs and shows that despite their proliferation they do not cover all of the sector’s product categories or performance issues.  The paper also acknowledges the potential costs of such proliferation, and suggests that a “virtual arena” of regulated competition could reduce these costs while preserving the benefits of relatively large information ecosystems.

Researchers Involved in this Research: Graham Bullock