Technological watch

Results of the Environmental Label Jury meeting in June 2023

The summer meeting of the Environmental Label Jury took place on 20/21 June in Hanover. Anka Dobslaw, State Secretary in the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection, welcomed the Environmental Label Jury. v.l.n.r. Katharina Istel (Vorsitzende Jury Umweltzeichen) begrüßt Anka Dobslaw, Staatssekretärin im niedersächsischen Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz bei der Jury Sitzung © Niedersächsisches Umweltministerium The Environmental Label Jury decided at its summer meeting on criteria for five new product groups to be awarded the Blue Angel ecolabel:

  • Heat pumps

  • Liquid coolers

  • Foam and water fire extinguishers

  • Structural waterproofing made of liquid plastics

  • Event catering and canteen operation

The new basic award criteria for these product groups will be finalised in the coming weeks and made available on Manufacturers of particularly environmentally friendly products can then apply for the label.

Furthermore, a test order for paving mortar and joint sand was decided by the jury.

Further information on the new ecolabels:New ecolabels: heat pumpsThe heat pump is a key technology for moving away from fossil fuel heating systems and is used not only for space heating but also for producing hot water. The use of regenerative heat sources such as groundwater, geothermal energy and air saves fossil fuels. Nevertheless, heat pumps also contribute to the greenhouse effect if direct and indirect emissions are not minimised. These result from the consumption of electrical energy and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production (indirect emissions), as well as from the release of refrigerants (direct emissions), which often have a very high global warming potential (GWP). The Blue Angel requirements are therefore designed in a way that combines the absence of fluorinated refrigerants with energy-efficient operation of the heat pumps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions - all the more so if the consumers also obtain the operating electricity from renewable sources. Other potential environmental impacts of heat pumps along their life cycle are also taken into account, such as those related to atmospheric degradation products of refrigerants or noise emissions.

The aim of this ecolabel is to be able to identify products that work with natural refrigerants and are characterised - beyond the legal requirements - by additional environmentally friendly properties.

The explanation field reads:

  • climate-friendly natural refrigerants
  • energy efficient
  • low-noise
New ecolabels: liquid coolersLiquid coolers are refrigerating machines that extract heat from the medium to be cooled via a water circuit. The heated water is then cooled again with the aid of the refrigeration circuit in which a refrigerant circulates. They are used in a wide range of cooling applications in the commercial and industrial sectors, but also for air conditioning in residential and especially non-residential buildings. Conventional liquid coolers contribute to climate change in two ways: firstly, by requiring electrical energy and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy conversion (indirect emissions), and secondly, through the direct emissions of refrigerants, which often have a very high global warming potential (GWP). Direct emissions are caused by leaks during operation, maintenance and repairs as well as disposal. Against this background, greenhouse gas emission savings can be realised by using environmentally friendly and energy-efficient liquid coolers. Starting points here are in particular the use of natural refrigerants and increasing the efficiency of the machines. The aim of this ecolabel is to be able to identify products that work with natural refrigerants and are characterised - beyond the legal requirements - by additional environmentally friendly properties. These are, in particular, high energy efficiency and low noise emissions.

The explanation field reads:

  • climate-friendly natural refrigerants

  • energy efficient

  • low-noise

New ecolabels: foam and water fire extinguishersHand-held fire extinguishers fulfil an important function in fire protection. However, their use can always entail the release of substances that are harmful to the environment and health into the air, water and soil. Especially the emission of foam extinguishing agents and the surfactants they contain can have considerable negative effects on aquatic and soil organisms. Furthermore, so-called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are still added to many foam extinguishing agents. PFAS pose a particular risk due to their chemical structure, as they are highly persistent and mobile in the environment (“forever chemicals”). This is why ECHA already published a ban proposal in 2022, under which the use of PFAS in extinguishing agents would be banned throughout the EU from probably 2028.

With the new ecolabel, the Blue Angel is pursuing two approaches to enable the selection of foam and water fire extinguishers that are as environmentally friendly as possible. Firstly, through criteria that prevent the addition of very environmentally harmful substances to foam and water extinguishing agents and, secondly, through criteria that guarantee close-meshed and low-threshold maintenance and take-back of fire extinguishers by manufacturers and thus prevent emissions from leaks or improper disposal.

Furthermore, a focus on foam fire extinguishers, in which surfactants and other additives of the extinguishing agent are stored as a concentrate separate from the extinguishing water, for example in foam cartridges, is intended to increase the service life of the extinguishing agents and reduce disposal costs.

The ecolabel for environmentally friendly foam and water fire extinguishers allows products to be labelled that, beyond the legal requirements:

  • do not contain any fluorinated organic compounds, in particular PFAS, even before a corresponding ban comes into force,
  • have as little negative impact as possible on the environment when used in the event of fire, in addition to that of the combustion products,
  • increase the service life of the extinguishing agents used and simplify disposal by spatially separating foam concentrate and extinguishing water,
  • ensure proper disposal of extinguishing agents that are no longer usable by providing a high level of transparency and information, thereby preventing unnecessary emissions into the environment.
The explanation field reads:

  • free from PFAS and other fluorinated organic compounds

  • reduced harmful impact on the environment

  • biodegradable surfactants

New ecolabels: structural waterproofing made of liquid plasticsLiquid plastics are required for exterior waterproofing of existing buildings. They are applied in a liquid state to the components to be waterproofed and, after curing, form a jointless, waterproof layer. Liquid plastics can contain fillers, pigments, auxiliary materials, solvents and biocides. The waterproofing system may also include other components such as reinforcing inserts, sealing tapes and primers or undercoats. Liquid plastics are installed in a way that means they come into contact with rainwater or soil, which is why the lowest possible release of pollutants from these products must be strived for in order to reduce environmental pollution both during processing and during and after the use phase. At the same time, a long service life is necessary in the interest of conserving resources. To assess the release of pollutants from liquid plastics, the Blue Angel requires a surface leaching test and ecotoxicity tests to rule out any harmful impact on the environment.

This ecolabel can be used to label structural waterproofing made of liquid plastics that - over and above the legal requirements -

  • has a low release of pollutants into the water cycle,
  • does not contain any pollutants that significantly interfere with disposal,
  • is produced and marketed in a resource-conserving way.
The following environmental and health benefits are therefore mentioned in the explanatory field:

  • low-emission
  • water-friendly
New ecolabels: Event catering and canteen operationThe number of meals prepared and consumed in private households decreased by more than three billion between 2005 and 2015, while meals not prepared and consumed in private households (i.e. “out-of-home”) increased continuously. The steady growth in the out-of-home market until 2019 showed that this trend continued until the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. The aim of the Blue Angel is to award catering services in the field of event catering and canteen operations that have a significantly lower ecological impact compared to comparable conventional services. The ecological impacts associated with the production and consumption of food relate in particular to climate

protection through reduced greenhouse gas emissions along the entire value chain, as well as the protection of biodiversity by avoiding land use changes and overexploitation of fish stocks, and a reduction in acidification and eutrophication of soils and water bodies through lower phosphorus and nitrogen inputs. The Blue Angel will have a benefit in the area of climate protection. By measuring greenhouse gas emissions, label holders can monitor and specifically reduce the climate impact of their services. Other important award criteria that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are the use of seasonal ingredients, the elimination of goods transported by air and the energy-efficient operation of the infrastructure. The limited use of fish, which must come from sustainable fisheries, contributes to preserving biodiversity, as does the use of organically produced food. Limiting the use of meat and other animal products serves to protect both the climate and biodiversity and to reduce eutrophication and acidification. Reducing food waste helps to mitigate the negative environmental impacts associated with the production, processing and preparation of food. The ecological goals are complemented by social aspects in the entire value chain through the required use of fair trade food as well as regulations on the labour situation in the own company. Furthermore, health aspects are central to sustainable nutrition. The services offered must therefore be based on the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society (DGE).

The following objectives are pursued by the Blue Angel for event catering and canteen operations:

  • Climate protection by determining greenhouse gas emissions

  • Conservation of natural resources, including protection of biodiversity

  • Fair trade food and requirements for working conditions

  • Consideration of health aspects in catering

The following environmental and health benefits are therefore mentioned in the explanatory field:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

  • Conservation of natural resources

  • Consideration of social aspects

Publication date: 21/06/2023

Blue Angel


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.