EcoLabel Standard Program Information
The International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA) has developed the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program through an open process involving the input, support and consensus of card manufacturers, personalizers, issuers and industry suppliers.
The ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program establishes measurable criteria (as defined in the Indicators for the Environmental Impact of Cards document) for assessing the environmental impact of transaction and identification cards for the purposes of ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program certification to meet issuer demand and create manufacturer-driven opportunities.
Ecolabeling is a voluntary method of environmental performance evaluation and labeling that identifies the overall environmental integrity of a product within a specific product category. As businesses have come to recognize that consumer environmental concerns may be translated into a market advantage for certain products, various environmental declarations, claims and symbols have emerged on products with respect to their environmental responsibility (e.g. natural, recyclable, eco-friendly, energy saving, recycled content, etc.).
However, without guiding standards by an independent third-party, such as ICMA, consumers and users may doubt the credibility of manufacturers’ assertions that a product is an environmentally preferable alternative.
In contrast to “green” symbols or claim statements, an ecolabel is awarded by an impartial and credible third-party in relation to products that are determined to meet environmental leadership criteria.
The emergence of the “green” card
By choosing a product with an ecolabel, the consumer can confidently make an informed choice to purchase a product. The ecolabel does not imply the product has no negative impact, but it does verify that the product has been impartially evaluated against accepted thresholds for specific characteristics.
In response to consumer demand, there has been considerable interest in environmentally responsible plastic transaction cards. Until now, there have been no card industry initiatives to confirm and/or certify card manufacturers and plastic cards as “green.” The ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program fills this void as a means of evaluating, quantifying and comparing the environmental impact of specific cards and administering a third-party ecolabeling certification program for card manufacturers.
A license is issued by ICMA to qualified card manufacturing members who have agreed to the criteria set forth in the EcoLabel Standard Program. Licensed manufacturers may apply for EcoLabel usage.
An EcoLabel is a logo that is granted for a card order that signifies it has met the criteria set forth in the EcoLabel Standard Program.
An EcoLabel assurance level where a licensed card manufacturer declares, without third party verification, that the card meets the criteria set by the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program. This signifies that the card is “registered”.
See definition for “declared” above and other information below.
An EcoLabel assurance level where a licensed card manufacturer provides an Assessment Report to ICMA, issued by a recognized third-party assessor, verifying that the manufacturer’s declarations have been made in accordance with the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program and are supported by adequate documentation and records. This signifies that the card is “certified”.
See definition for “verified” above and other information below.
- Implement an ICMA industry environmental standard and guidelines for manufacturers and cards to meet issuer demand and create manufacturer-driven opportunities.
- Define criteria for environmental green card standards for a card industry ecolabel certification. Certify member manufacturers and card products and administer ICMA EcoLabel usage.
- Provide information and best practices to manufacturers contemplating or applying for EcoLabel licensing and certification of their products.
- Disseminate ICMA EcoLabel information to the public and the card industry.
- Represent the interests of ecolabeling in international meetings and forums.
Voluntary and expandable
The decisions of ICMA member card manufacturers to participate in the EcoLabel Standard Program are voluntary. The initiative is also designed and operated so that additional card industry segments/participants can request that ecolabeling categories and criteria be developed for additional products or services.
Conformance with existing international standards
The ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program was developed to comply with provisions of the International Standards Organization (ISO) with reference to the general international principles and procedures of environmental labels and declarations.
Accurate and verifiable environmental information
The ISO has undertaken efforts to standardize the international practices and key characteristics relating to ecolabeling. The ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program is structured to conform with the ISO principle that ecolabels communicate verifiable and accurate information, that is not misleading, about the environmental characteristics of labeled products. This encourages the demand for and supply of products causing less environmental stress and stimulates market-driven continuous environmental improvement.
Detailed and specific EcoLabel criteria may be obtained on the ICMA website and in the Indicators for the Environmental Impact of Cards document, which clearly defines the parameters below. ICMA is aware there may be some cards that are promoted as “green” even though they do not meet ICMA’s EcoLabel Standard Program criteria or display the ICMA EcoLabel logo. In general, the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program criteria currently includes:
- Reduced Materials (a minimum of 25%)
- Recycled Content (a minimum 25% threshold)
- Compostable (Municipal and Home)
- Biobased Content (a minimum of 40%)
Issuer compliance and standards verification
It is the responsibility of the issuer of an ICMA EcoLabel certified card to initiate third-party authentication of manufacturer claims, as well as comply with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other brand issuing requirements. Card manufacturers may also choose to conduct third-party authentication testing as described in the Verified Assurance level of the program.
ICMA may request an audit, if deemed necessary, in the form of third-party card testing, or an on-site audit at the manufacturer’s expense, of the manufacturer’s documentation supporting their claim to verify the standards and specifications of an ICMA EcoLabel certified product are being met.
Responsive to innovation
In order to be credible and effective, the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program must be responsive to technological innovation, shifting market forces and changing industry requirements. This requires periodic review and, when necessary, updating of both environmental label criteria and categories, taking into account technological and marketplace developments.
To initiate a licensing application for the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program, an applicant will supply the following information:
- Manufacturer contact information.
- Confirmation that the company agrees to accept and abide by the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program criteria and specifications. This will also include an agreement from the manufacturer regarding any marketing language associated with using the ICMA EcoLabel logo.
- i.e. “On any cards produced by Manufacturer that bear the ICMA EcoLabel symbol, Manufacturer agrees to ensure that any environmental marketing language and/or non-ICMA environmental marketing symbols appearing on the cards comply with ICMA’s Indicators for the Environmental Impact of Cards document, as well as the standards contained within ISO 14021:1999(E). Manufacturer is solely responsible for maintaining copies of these documents and referring to them as necessary to ensure compliance on all cards bearing the ICMA EcoLabel symbol.”
- Payment of the annual ICMA EcoLabel license fee of $750. Once your application has been submitted and approved, you will be sent an email with an invoice and instructions to pay via the ICMA online portal.
- Once the above steps are complete, ICMA will assign the licensed EcoLabel card manufacturer an ID code.
- After the licensing is confimed, an EcoLabel registration form will be made available to you, and you will be provided with the EcoLabel Licensee logo.
Licensing Terms and Conditions
- Licenses are granted to ICMA member companies in good standing.
- The licensing fee applies to a card manufacturing company entity (separate licenses are not required for branch locations).
- If an ICMA member company’s membership expires, their license will be revoked.
- License fees are paid annually on an anniversary basis from the date the license is issued.
- If a license is revoked or expires for either of the above reasons, the company must cease use of any ecolabeling claims, logos or references on their materials.
- Once approved as a licensee, the company may communicate that status to the marketplace. However, licensee status does not apply to individual card products, which must be certified on a per-order basis through ICMA website registration (See the EcoLabel Registration Process section below).
- Licensed manufacturers agree to abide by all ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program criteria and guidelines for the individual card products they register for an EcoLabel.
- Licensed manufacturers will verify, on an EcoLabel per-order basis (see EcoLabel Usage section below), that a card product is in compliance with the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program.
EcoLabel Registration Process
- Licensees must register information on specific cards that will display the EcoLabel and must pay for the use of the label on a per-order basis.
- An “order” is defined as a single brand and themed card (e.g. a branded gift card with multiple denomination values or theme variations would be considered as a single order). These orders would usually be on a common PO – purchase order. Exact repeat orders would use the previously assigned information and would not be subject to additional license fees.
- EcoLabel Usage Fee: $100 per card product/order, regardless of volume
- Usage forms and the usage fee must be submitted on a per-use basis.
- Usage form information includes:
- Name of issuer (optional)
- Your production/job number or customer order number
- Order quantity
- Type of card (i.e. financial, gift, retail, etc.)
- Month/Year of card issuance
- EcoLabel desired (reduced materials, recycled content, compostable or biobased content)
- Level desired (declared or verified) (see Assurance Level section below)
Providing this information will enable ICMA to gather usage data.
ICMA has defined two assurance levels. A licensee may select either level for any card order being registered for an EcoLabel based on their customers’ requirements.
- During the registration of a product for an EcoLabel, the card manufacturer must declare that the card meets the criteria set by the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program.
- This card has not been verified by a third-party and is solely based on the manufacturer’s declaration.
- Within ICMA’s EcoLabeling scheme, a product with the assurance level “Declared” is considered “registered.”
- During the registration of a product for an EcoLabel, the manufacturer provides an Assessment Report to ICMA, issued by a recognized third party assessor, verifying that the manufacturer’s declarations have been made in accordance with the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program and are supported by adequate documentation and records. (see Compliance – Laboratory Testing section below).
- This card is then considered verified by an independent third-party in accordance with ICMA’s rules and regulations.
- Within ICMA’s EcoLabeling scheme, a product registered with the assurance level “Verified” is considered “certified.”
Assurance Level Registration Process
Declared Product Registration:
- Through the ICMA website, the manufacturer registers the product.
- The manufacturer pays the EcoLabel Usage Fee (ICMA will email you with a link to pay the fee).
- The manufacturer receives a “label number” unique to the order.
Verified Product Certification:
- The manufacturer requests a recognized third-party assessor to verify that the card is supported by sufficient evidence in accordance with the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program.
- The assessor provides an assessment report to the manufacturer.
- Through the ICMA website, the manufacturer registers the product and requests certification.
- As part of the registration process, the manufacturer provides the assessment report issued by the ICMA approved assessor.
- The manufacturer pays the EcoLabel Usage Fee (ICMA will email you with a link to pay the fee).
- ICMA checks that the assessment report recommends certification of the order.
- The manufacturer receives a “label number” unique to the order.
Compliance – Laboratory Testing
- In order to show compliance of the green card standard, a laboratory will need to be able to carry out the following tests:
- ASTM D 5338, Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Controlled Composting Conditions
- ISO 14855-1, Determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions — Method by analysis of evolved carbon dioxide — Part 1: General method
- ISO 14855-2, Determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions — Method by analysis of evolved carbon dioxide — Part 2: Gravimetric measurement of carbon dioxide evolved in a laboratory-scale test
- ISO 16929, Plastics — Determination of the degree of disintegration of plastic materials under defined composting conditions in a pilot-scale test
- ISO 20200, Plastics — Determination of the degree of disintegration of plastic materials under simulated composting conditions in a laboratory-scale test
- Biobased Content:
- ASTM D 6866, Standard Test Method for Determining Biobased Content
- In order to show compliance with the toxic metal content, the test laboratory would need to provide analytic chemical analysis through such methods as ICP/MS.
- Recognized third-party assessors capable of performing these audits.
EcoLabel Card Logo
- The use of the ICMA EcoLabel card logo is trademarked and restricted only to those member card manufacturers currently licensed to participate in the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program.
- The presence of the ICMA EcoLabel card logo is intended to provide assurance to the consumer that a particular card meets the criteria set within the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program for one or more environmental attribute(s) and that the card manufacturer assures that any environmental marketing language and/or non-ICMA environmental marketing symbols appearing on the card comply with ICMA’s Indicators for the Environmental Impact of Cards document, as well as the environmental marketing standards contained within ISO 14021:1999(E), Environmental labels and declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labeling).
- The licensed card manufacturer is solely responsible for maintaining copies of these documents and referring to them as necessary to ensure compliance on all cards bearing the ICMA EcoLabel card logo. Please refer to the Licensing Terms and Conditions section above for more information on card manufacturer obligations.
- The EcoLabel Logo Guidelines design standards are intended to provide the necessary instructions for incorporating the ICMA EcoLabel card logo into qualifying card artwork prior to manufacturing. Please refer to the Assurance Levels section above regarding the steps to qualify a card prior to the use of the ICMA EcoLabel logo.
- Appearance of the ICMA EcoLabel Card Logo on Qualifying Cards
- The ICMA EcoLabel card logo is restricted to the back of the card and may be printed in black, in color, or reversed out of a solid background, as shown in the EcoLabel Logo Guidelines document. No artwork or type may interfere with the ICMA EcoLabel card logo.
- The card manufacturer’s assigned ICMA EcoLabel card manufacturer ID code must appear in close proximity to the ICMA EcoLabel logo (see the EcoLabel Logo Guidelines document).
- A 1.5 mm clear space, free of any copy or design elements must be maintained around both the ICMA EcoLabel card logo and the ICMA EcoLabel card manufacturer ID code (see the EcoLabel Logo Guidelines document).
Licensee Marketing Benefits:
- The EcoLabel Licensee logo may be placed on all manufacturer corporate, sales and product literature (see EcoLabel Logo Guidelines document).
- The EcoLabel Licensee logo may be placed on the manufacturer’s website.
- Manufacturers may initiate corporate public relations relating to the ICMA EcoLabel Standard Program. Editorial coverage in the ICMA Card Manufacturing magazine. Manufacturers with “declared” cards may promote and claim that they have a “registered” product in accordance with ICMA’s EcoLabel Standard Program.
- Manufacturers with “verified” cards may promote and claim that they have a “certified” product in accordance with ICMA’s EcoLabel Standard Program.
If the card manufacturers’ customer wishes to market the Eco-Label:
- Issuers or other clients of the card manufacturer are permitted to promote, through the use of the EcoLabel card logo, a card that has been either registered or certified in accordance with ICMA’s EcoLabel Standard Program in the above-mentioned ways.
ICMA Copyright Policy:
It is the intent of ICMA that all members of the association adhere to the provisions of the United States Copyright Law (Title 17, United States Code, Sect. 101, et seq.) and corresponding international copyright laws. This policy statement is for anyone who wishes to reproduce, alter, or transmit standards or other works that are protected by copyright. Copyright protection applies to a variety of creative works—printed materials, sound recordings, video recordings, visual artworks, computer software, and other works, and unauthorized copying or transmission of protected works is expressly prohibited.
ICMA Copyright Notice:
Copyright © 2010 by ICMA, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ICMA (such as the ISO and ASTM standards setting organizations) must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from ICMA, 191 Clarksville Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550, fax (609-799-7032) or email email@example.com.
A licensee shall indemnify and hold ICMA harmless from and against any claims or actions brought against ICMA and any losses, damages, liabilities, or costs (including attorney fees) arising out of ICMA EcoLabel licensing and/or certification of individual card products.
Note: ICMA is not associated with any other program using the term EcoLabel.