Environment Law Update: Access to information 2

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Company reporting on water

The DETR has issued "Guidelines for Company Reporting on Water" in draft for consultation. The Guidelines are designed to help businesses to manage and report on their water usage as a means to improve both their sustainability and their competitiveness. The Guidelines will help businesses to set targets to reduce their water usage and achieve savings to improve performance and competitiveness. Research has shown that the inappropriate use of water can cost a company as much as 1-2% of its turnover. The Guidelines are designed for both office premises and installations, however are not designed to deal with trade effluents. They are primarily for use by businesses in the FTSE 350, however, businesses of all sizes are expected to benefit from them.
(DETR, July 2000)

Green claims

The DETR has launched a revised version of the 1998 Green Claims Code, setting out standards of good practice for businesses who provide environmental information on consumer products. Launched jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry, the new version provides practical guidance in line with the new international standard on environmental claims (ISO 14021). Since the 1998 Code was introduced, the number of misleading environmental claims has fallen, however many products still carry descriptions that the Government considers vague, irrelevant or unhelpful, including the phrase "environmentally friendly". The DETR is planning to commission an in-depth survey of green claims later this year to identify particular problems in the market.
(DETR News Release, 31 July 2000)

European Union

Access to environmental information

A proposal for a Directive extending the public's access to environmental information has been adopted by the European Commission. This will replace the existing legislation in this area, Directive 90/313/EEC on freedom of access to information on the environment. The new Directive incorporates the findings of a recently published study into the practical operation of the 1990 Directive and reflects developments in information technology as well as meeting the objectives of the "Aarhus" Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice. Members of the public will gain the right to access environmental information held by public authorities and in addition to meeting specific requests, public authorities will be obliged to actively supply information to the public, particularly via the internet.
(COM (2000) 402, 29 June 2000)


The new Regulation on a revised Community Eco-label Award Scheme (No. 1980/2000) has been published in the Official Journal. The new label is reproduced in Annex III of the Regulation and consists of two parts, box 1 on the left hand side with the "Eco-Flower" and box 2 on the right hand side which must contain information relating to at least one and not more than three environmental impacts which has led to the award of the eco-label. Under the scheme, the environmental impacts of products shall be identified by looking at various interactions of products with the environment, including the use of energy and natural resources during the life cycle of the product. The Regulation came into force on 24 September 2000.
(OJ L237, 21 September 2000)