The Nordic Swan Ecolabel was established in 1989.

Interest in environmental issues increased during the 1980s. The UN report "Our Common Future" showed that environmental issues were too important to leave to the environmentalists alone. In 1989, the Nordic Council of Ministers decided to introduce a common, official environmental label in Nordic, to help consumers in choosing environmentally-sound products.  The Swan was selected as a symbol, a variation of the logo of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This is the reason that the Nordic Swan Ecolabel is commonly known and called "the Swan" in the Nordic countries.

From a small start in the early 1990s, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel is now one of the world’s most successful ecolabels.