Thursday, May 19, 2022

e-labelling – let’s take the step into the digital age with our labels

21 countries and 60% of consumers – 21 countries around the world have replaced traditional labels with the option to use electronic labelling for mobile phones and other ICT equipment, and 60% of consumer electronic sales revenue worldwide is derived from markets allowing e-labelling. The MWF’s e-labelling initiative explains what Europe can gain from following suit.

In April 2022, the MWF launched the e-labelling initiative. Its purpose is to build alliances and support in Europe for allowing electronic labelling to replace the current requirements for printed labels on the device and packaging as well as compliance, regulatory and safety information in print form. E-labelling on the other hand is a digital depiction of logos, marks and labels within the device that fulfils the same purpose and can go far beyond it, accompanied by a QR code on the packaging that leads to the same information. 

A triple-win

A win for the environment: an estimated 48 million sheets of A4 paper could be saved every year from smartphone packaging alone, if required information was allowed in electronic format. This would result in 480 million litres of water and over a 1000 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved. 

A double-win for the consumer: the information can be made more accessible and remains available throughout the lifetime of the device in contrast to the existing system where the information is lost or discarded and is inaccessible to some users with a disability.

Following international best practice

Europe would not be the first to opt for e-labelling. Currently, 21 countries around the world have replaced traditional labelling requirements with the option to use electronic labelling for mobile phones and other ICT equipment, such as tablets, wearables and laptops. These 21 countries represent around 60% of consumer electronic sales revenue worldwide, and include the EU’s major trading partners: the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

A 2018 study by VVA furthermore shows that the introduction of e-labelling has no impact on market surveillance authorities and might even result in lowering their operational costs, while quick and easy access to the information is ensured for customs. 

A recently published MWF White Paper finally outlines how the European Commission has already supported e-labelling in other sectors and that a broader implementation of e-labelling in Europe does not need to be complex. Rather, it involves a simple amendment to the relevant directive that would allow for existing requirements to also be met through digital display.


For more information, have a look at the MWF video series on e-labelling: 


The MWF White Paper on “Why the European Union should adopt e-labelling”: https://www.elabellinginitiative.org//docs/eng/MWF_E-labelling%20White%20Paper_Mar2022.pdf 


The website of the MWF’s e-labelling imitative: https://www.elabellinginitiative.org 

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