FAQs for Consumers

What information does the Blue Angel provide on the product?

The Blue Angel is a label initiated by the German government and awarded by an independent Jury to products that are environmentally friendlier than others serving the same use. It is to assist consumers in their purchase decisions.

Why should consumers choose Blue Angel products?

Blue Angel products meet a list of criteria considering environmental and health-related aspects. Insofar the purchase of a Blue Angel-labelled product is a guarantee for good products with less environmental impact and greater health protection than many other products serving the same purpose.

How does the consumer help to protect the environment when buying a Blue Angel product?

The Blue Angel is awarded to products distinguishing themselves by greater environmental friendliness than other products serving the same purpose. Demand for and purchase of Blue Angel products are a strong indication of consumer interest and, as result, prompt manufacturers to produce environmentally friendly products.

The essential criterion achieving the environmental relief or benefit can be seen from the surrounding text. A paper product made from 100 percent recycled paper saves the entire raw material required for virgin fiber paper production, low-emission paints feature a by far lower content of solvents and other pollutants, water-saving taps can save plenty of water. The level of environmental benefit always depends on the comparative product and, of course, on the use of the product.

What are the environmental aspects considered for award of the Blue Angel?

The award of the Blue Angel is preceded by a review of the entire life cycle of the products. Such review considers as many aspects of environmental and health protection as possible for the respective product. Subsequently, the criteria limit or rule out those environmental impacts which are considered to be the most important impacts for the respective product. So, it makes little sense to consider health-endangering emissions for a water-saving tap while this would be of paramount importance for the labelling of paints. The Basic Award Criteria for a product are specified for each product group. The documents are available to read or download from our website.

Does the Blue Angel as an environmental label also cover requirements for health protection?

In many cases environmental and health protection cannot be separated. Requirements for environmental protection usually also serve health protection. Health-relevant products (paints, varnishes, wood preservatives, noise-intensive equipment) focus on requirements for health protection. Some Blue Angel eco-labels have been awarded primarily for health care reasons (to avoid indoor air impacts), e.g. low-emission products made from wood-based materials. The Basic Award Criteria ban carcinogenic or other health-hazardous substances from use in Blue Angel products.
 
Exceptions from this general rule will only be possible if no alternative substances are technically available and if - based on the current state of scientific knowledge - a health risk can be ruled with certainty.

Why are there no Blue Angel bicycles or similar products whose use is per se environmentally sound?

Nobody questions the environmental soundness of bicycles. However, the Blue Angel is only awarded to products which, on the whole, are environmentally friendlier than other similar products. This means, one would have to compare bicycles with bicycles. That would not make sense because hardly any environmental impacts are resulting from the product group of “bicycles”.

On the other hand, a comparison between bicycles and cars would rather be a comparison between apples and oranges as these are totally different products that would not allow a direct comparison because of different properties and performances.

Can the Blue Angel be compared with the Green Dot?

No. The Green Dot is a license symbol for the use of the German Dual System, a private company for packaging disposal. The Green Dot does not say anything about the environmental qualities of the product and, unlike the Blue Angel, it is no eco-label. The Green Dot is awarded by means of charged licenses and it is not subject to any environmental criteria

Where can I find out what products or product groups have been awarded the Blue Angel and who offers such products?

Blue Angel eco-labels exist for about 80 product and service groups the most well known of which are paints and varnishes, emulsion wall paints, wallpapers, paper products, solar panels, low-noise appliances, heating systems but also services like wet cleaning of textiles. For a list of all products and product group please go to ProductsBrands and Suppliers on this website. There you can read the Basic Award Criteria forming the basis of the respective eco-label award.

Do foods from organic agricultural production also carry the Blue Angel?

No. Foods as well as medical products have been exempted from Blue Angel ecolabelling so far. It might, however, be possible that returnable packagings of organically grown products are Blue Angel-labelled if a Contract on the Use of the Environmental Label has been concluded for the packaging.

Are Blue Angel products generally more expensive than others?

No. The price of Blue Angel products is not necessarily higher than that of non-certified products serving the same purpose. However, the use of special higher-quality materials or special environmentally friendlier production methods may lead to higher production cost. Sometimes, manufacturers also incur costs for the compliance verifications required for the award of the Blue Angel, e.g. product emission test results. But these higher costs incurred by the manufacturer are not necessarily reflected in the product sales prices.

On the other hand, the products may save costs thanks to a longer service life, lower energy and raw material consumption, guaranteed repair options or free product return.

Are there any black sheep who misuse the Blue Angel?

RAL does not conclude the Contract on the Use of the Environmental label before consulting the respective State Ministry for the Environment and before reviewing the submitted documents for correctness and completeness and the results of the testing laboratories. In the event of misuse of the Blue Angel a warning letter will be sent to the label user and in the event of breach of the Basic Award Criteria the eco-label can be withdrawn. In the past, cases of misuse have been quickly discovered and stopped.

Is the Blue Angel an obligatory label for products meeting the criteria?

No. The Blue Angel is a market-conform instrument of environmental policy that is used on a voluntary basis. The important thing is to provide the consumer with information for his or her buying decision as a result of which suppliers may gain competitive advantage. If there is demand for environment and health-safe products manufacturers and trading companies will be anxious to have their products ecolabelled accordingly – but there is no obligation to do so.
 
The over twenty-year existence of the Blue Angel and its use are evidence that consumers consider environmental and health aspects - besides other aspects - when making their purchasing decisions.

Will PVC-containing products be awarded the Blue Angel?

There is no general ban on the award of the Blue Angel to PVC-containing products. However, many products where PVC can be replaced won’t be awarded the Blue Angel in order to minimise the environmental impact caused by PVC. In individual cases, the Environmental Label Jury reserves the right to decide on the exclusion of substances, unless prescribed by law.

Why do Blue Angel products yield different test results from Stiftung Warentest (Foundation for Comparative Product Testing)?

Product assessments by Stiftung Warentest and the Blue Angel ecolabelling scheme are two totally different instruments of consumer information on product-related quality characteristics. Stiftung Warentest assigns quality ratings according to its criteria to a limited selection of products of a certain product group – often products holding substantial market share. In doing so, the environmental aspect is not the only criterion for the rating of product quality.

The Blue Angel, on the other side, sets environmental requirements for an entire product group. They are laid down in the respective Basic Award Criteria where serviceability and health-safety of the products are, of course, taken for granted. The Blue Angel does not assign stepped ratings but marks environmentally friendlier products in terms of a Yes/No decision compared with others. Stiftung Warentest provides for a differentiated evaluation of the products according to the criteria indicated (serviceability, environmental and health properties). The foundation’s product tests support the Blue Angel in as much as Blue Angel products often take part in these tests. Thus, also Blue Angel products receive an efficient random rating.

Are the Basic Award Criteria reviewed and, if necessary, updated at regular intervals?

The Blue Angel is not a static information instrument. All Basic Award Criteria are valid for a specified, usually, 3-to-4-year period. Such period can be shortened for product groups where more rapid technological advance is to be expected.

The Environmental Label Jury reviews the existing criteria before the expiry of such period and decides whether certain Basic Award Criteria shall be extended with or without changes or withdrawn. Thus, current market conditions and the development of new product alternatives can be taken into account. This ensures the necessary dynamics and a regular update of the criteria right from the start.

Upon conclusion of the Contract on the Use of the Environmental Label with RAL the manufacturer enters into a legally binding obligation to fully meet the requirements during the entire term of the contract. The Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency) and RAL investigate leads from competitors, consumer associations and individual consumers concerning possible misuse.

If it turns out that a product does not meet the requirements as specified in the Contract or if the Blue Angel is misused in any other way the manufacturer forfeits the right to use the Blue Angel.

May I send you a list of questions in preparation of my research project?

We appreciate your interest in the Blue Angel. Unfortunately, we are unable to answer personal lists of questions. Our recommendation is to browse this site and the linked sites. If you have any specific questions that cannot be answered this way, please contact the appropriate contact person as listed on our website. Furthermore, we shall be pleased to send you the indicated information.