The number of ecological products and services is surging in Europe, according to newly published figures.

There are now a third (32%) more products and services sporting an EU Ecolabel in the year to September, compared to the year before. Growth has nearly doubled since 2016, up by 85%.

This according to new figures from the European Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the legal standards underpinning the EU Ecolabel. The standards ensure that everyday products like soaps, furniture, footwear and paper products have better packaging, less harmful chemical ingredients and last longer, so do not need to be replaced so quickly.

The market trend may reflect popular concern over sustainability and exposure to chemicals from products, clear findings in comprehensive public opinion surveys carried out for the EU. Recent polling found that most Europeans are concerned (26% very concerned) about chemical exposure in their daily lives. Separate polling found that nearly all those asked (94%) say protection of the environment is important to them, while nine out of ten are worried about the impact on the environment of chemicals present in everyday products.

The latest figures show rapid growth in product groups for which Ecolabel standards are newly published.  The number of stationary paper products, for example, has nearly tripled, while absorbent hygiene products, such as nappies, grew by a quarter (26%). More established product groups, such as textiles, tissue paper and rinse-off cosmetic products, grew more steadily.

Ecolabel standards are reviewed periodically and usually become tighter. The figures reveal that this process can knock back the number of products bearing the Ecolabel as manufacturers adjust to the improved rules, but that such setbacks are temporary. The number of hotels with an Ecolabel declined from 817 to 705 between Sept 2017 and March 2018, following a tightening of standards in 2016. But numbers have been bouncing back since, and now stand at 766.

The figures were welcomed by consumer and environmental associations.