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ISO prepares guidelines on eco-design

Friday 24 August 2001

International guidelines on how to integrate environmental considerations into product design are to be drafted by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

The decision to proceed with the guidelines, which will take the form of a technical report rather than a standard, was approved by a 25-11 vote by national delegations to ISO's technical committee dealing with environmental issues, TC207.

Opposition was led by the USA, which is concerned that the guidance may discourage the use of some substances or materials and could be used as the basis for sueing companies over the effects of their products. Klaus Lehman, former chair of the ISO committee examining the need for the guidance, says that no such bans will be included.

The American National Standards Institute has appealed against the decision, asking ISO to annul the vote on the technicality that not all the member bodies voting in favour simultaneously nominated experts for the project, as required under ISO's rules.

The report will be drafted by ISO's working group WG3, which will report directly to TC207 rather than to one of the sub-committees which has overseen the development of environmental standards. In the UK, which voted in favour of the project, WG3's work will be shadowed by the British Standards Institution's technical committee Es/5, which is widening its scope to include the subject alongside its existing work on life-cycle assessment.

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