The Green Mark Program (“Program”) is the official eco-labelling program in Chinese Taipei which was founded in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Administration (TEPA). At present, the Program has issued Green Mark eco-label certificates to nearly 6,000 products under 112 product categories, including various cleaning products, office supplies and equipment, energy/water-saving products, home appliances, information technology products, construction materials, etc.
The Program is instrumental in the government’s green procurement program which has been in place since 2002, as the Green Mark products are designated as the top priority products for government agencies and all publicly-owned enterprises/schools/hospitals to choose from. There are currently 43 designated Green Mark categories with preferential procurement status, and the government has set 88% of total procurement spending in these categories as the goal for government agencies’ green procurement efforts. In recent years, total annual government green procurement spending has been around NT$ 7-8 billion.
After close to 17 years of operation, the Program has evolved and shifted to electronic management for most of its operations, including application processing, license renewal and licensed product statistics, except document review and on-site audit. Through the Program website, http://greenliving.epa.gov.tw/GreenLife/, Green Mark applicants/licensees may submit on-line applications and eco-labeled product statistics. Interested parties may obtain all relevant green purchasing information and Program implementation statistics from the same site.
Since 2008, TEPA has expanded its promotion of green purchasing to the private sector, with the Program spearheading the efforts in establishing a Taiwan Green Purchasing Alliance (TGPA) and encouraging private companies to practice green purchasing and to green the supply chain. Under the sponsorship and direction of TEPA, TGPA has partnered with EDF in organizing a series of activities directed at promoting green private sector purchasing, including:
●Eco-product exhibition: In 2007, TGPA helped organize the successful 2007 Green Living Expo in Chinese Taipei, and attracted a total of 80,000 visitors among from general consumers. A similar type of Expo is expected in 2011.
●Green Stores: Initiated in 2007 as a TGPA project sponsored by the TEPA, the project seeks to work with local Environmental Protection Bureaus in soliciting local retailers to become “green stores.” In order to qualify as a green store, the retailer needs to comply with the “Code of Good Practice for Green Stores.” At present, there are over 9,956 green stores registered at TEPA and the number is still increasing. Green Stores will be able to display a specifically designed logo at its entrance.
●Green Marketing Award—Retailers: All Green Stores are eligible to participate in the Green Marketing Award for Retailers, sponsored by TEPA. Since 2007, almost all the major chain stores such as B&Q, Geant, RT-Mart and Carrefour, entered the contest with immense interest.
●On-Line Store of Green Products: An On-Line Store of Green Products (http://www.buygreentw.net) was established by TEPA in 2007. The green products marketed on this store include not only Green Mark but also Water Conservation- and Energy Saving-labeled products.
●Training Materials: TGPA helped develop 4 different versions of basic training materials on green purchasing in 2008, focusing on the topics of green consumption and Green Mark, government green procurement, private sector green purchasing, and promotional skills, respectively.
●Green Voucher: TEPA has selected two Green Stores to pilot a Green Voucher plan this year to broaden the practice of green consumption among the populace. A total of NT$5 million in vouchers will be issued which can be exchanged for Green Mark products in designated stores. If this trial project is successful, it will become a part of all government agencies’ green procurement plans in 2011 to encourage the use of Green Vouchers in place of providing policy promotion materials, awards and gifts.
GEN and Green Mark Program
Environment and Development Foundation (EDF), being the implementation body of the Green Mark Program, became one of the Global Ecolabelling Network’s (GEN) founding members in 1994. It has been actively engaged in most of the activities led by or promoted by GEN. The signing of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) and joint development of Common Core Criteria (CCC) with fellow GEN members, as well as piloting the GENICES’s Panel Review process are the three most important achievements so far. Through these initiatives, EDF has received significant feedback and results, especially on the MRA aspect, described as follows.
The Practice of Mutual Recognition Agreements
The mutual recognition agreement (MRA) signed between TerraChoice and EDF in 1998, has been reproduced by dozens of GEN members to enhance cooperation. Besides the MRA with TerraChoice, EDF has also entered into similar MRAs with other GEN members, including Green Seal in USA (1998), TEI in Thailand (2001), KEITI (formerly KOECO) in Korea (2002), AELA in Australia (2004), NZET in New Zealand (2004), JEA in Japan (2004), Living Planet in Ukraine (2005), CENIA (formerly CEA) in the Czech Republic (2006) and PECPSDI in the Philippines (2009).
The practice of MRA may take different forms. The first case happened a few years ago. A printer manufactured by a US-based company and certified by TerraChoice was exempted from product power consumption testing while applying for Green Mark. The second type of practice is for EDF to ask the other party to perform the necessary on-site audit or vice versa. The third type of practice is to have EDF acting as a window to help Taiwanese companies to apply for the use of the other party’s logo. Todate, there have been more than a dozen successful cases.
The above examples demonstrate that through different levels of MRAs, GEN members may be able to recognize each other’s quality management system, test results and reports, and on-site audit and certification reports. Significant financial and environmental benefits may be achieved through properly structured and executed MRAs, which will include reducing the need for duplicate testing and significantly reducing the carbon footprint from long-distance travelling. EDF strongly believes that through efforts such as MRAs, common core criteria and GENICES, the prospect of promoting green products and services can be greatly enhanced; and that promotion of MRAs should continue to be a priority task among GEN members and be looked upon as the first step in harmonization of global ecolabelling efforts.