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Since 1978, the German Blue Angel has set the standard for eco-friendly goods and services. It is a state-initiated label where the criteria are adopted by an independent jury including representatives of civil organisations, consumer and environmental NGOs and the industry. In line with the international standard for eco-labelling, ISO 14024, the Blue Angel as a so-called Type I Eco-label is designed to promote goods and services that have - based on the entire life cycle - reduced environmental and health impacts compared to the market average. Combined with other environmental policy instruments, eco-label initiatives can play their part to restructure the economy towards sustainable development.
The Blue Angel for textiles was released in December, 2010 on the initiative of the Environmental Label Jury and approved by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The main aim of the Blue Angel for textiles (reference code: RAL-UZ 154) is to provide reliable guidance for sustainable textiles based on environmental and consumer safety.
The standard is built around four principles: better environmental standards in the manufacturing process, improving occupational safety and health, avoiding harmful chemical substances in the product, and good usability.
The Blue Angel standard is a holistic approach that takes all the above aspects into consideration.
The Blue Angel standard is owned by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, based in Berlin. Decisions for the Blue Angel programme are made by the independent Environmental Label Jury, which is composed of representatives from environmental and consumer associations, trade unions, industry, trade, crafts, local authorities, science, media, churches and federal states. In addition, the German government authorised the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) to act as the office of the Environmental Label Jury and to develop the technical criteria for the Blue Angel and for RAL gGmbH (Deutsches Institut für Gütezeichen) to award the Blue Angel certification.
The Blue Angel standard, as it relates to textiles, addresses two main textile product groups.
Garments and Accessories: The composition of textile garments and textile accessories must include a minimum of 90% textile fibres by weight.
Interior/Home Textiles: The composition of textile products in the field of interior/home textiles must include a minimum of 90% textile fibres by weight.
The Blue Angel certification is open for international textile manufacturers and service providers, though currently only 15% of the total Blue Angel eco-label holders are companies located outside of Germany. Surveys by the Ministry for the Environment and UBA show that the Blue Angel is recognised by almost 80% of the end-consumers in Germany for a wide range of consumer goods. As of the beginning of 2012 about 13.000 products by 1.250 companies within 120 categories carry the Blue Angel eco-label.
In the beginning of 2011, two new groups, 'textiles' (reference code: RAL-UZ 154) and 'shoes' (reference code: RAL-UZ 155), were added among various other product groups to the Blue Angel programme.