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Eco-Labels Proliferate

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

As the economy becomes more green-oriented, eco-labels and certifications have multiplied. There are hundreds of groups certifying appliances or foods for achieving one green standard or another. That may be causing more confusion than clarity.

"OK. I've got a few things in this basket: so we have some Salmon cake bites and they are certified as sustainable seafood by MSC, this is certified fair-trade by somebody, there's a lot of these things, do you pay attention to them?" reporter Sabri Ben-Achour asks.

"I don't tend to pay attention to the things you pointed out on these products because I don't know what they mean or who's doing the certification," says shopper Susan Sarver.

She's identified what some economists say is a growing problem. There are by some estimates 800 different groups offering their stamp of approval for your purchases, says University of Michigan professor Thomas Lyon.

"If consumers don't know what it means, then it's not clear the marketplace will work very well," Lyon says.

It's possible that they might start to consolidate.

"We just don't know yet, will there be consolidation in the market for labels like there is in so many other markets? I think that has to happen," he says.

Until then, there are websites available such as the Ecolabel Index, created by the World Resources Institute, that can help evaluate the different certifications.

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