One of the project’s tasks involves the continuing collection of information regarding the implementation of domestic and foreign ecolabeling programs. After last year’s information gathering exercise, it was observed that many ecolabeling programs have slowed down in introducing new product criteria, and instead focused more on revising and integrating existing product criteria and standards. Analysis of this year’s gathered information, again confirmed this trend in decreasing new product criteria development. For this year’ Green Mark program implementation, in addition to revising and integrating existing product criteria, the introduction of new product criteria has focused on new products related to daily living, so that the impact of Green Mark ecolabeling can be felt in consumer’s daily lives.
In performing follow-up surveillance activities related to certified Green Mark products, the emphasis has been on the risk management concept and random sampling. If non-compliances are observed during the surveillance activities, the most severe penalties are usually the termination of license holder’s right to use ecolabel on non-conforming products.
Regarding the global promotion of ecolabeling programs, the results of a survey conducted by the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) showed that over three quarters of the ecolabeling programs operated by GEN members are recognized by their respective governments’ purchasing programs, the governments are actively promoting digitized and mobile-platform based ecolabeling information, major purchasers are utilizing their tremendous purchasing power to pressure suppliers in manufacturing or supplying products conforming to green requirements, and that those efforts in turn improve the consumers’ awareness of global ecolabeling programs.
During this year’s project, multiple Green Mark product criteria have been developed, revised or repealed. With regard to the development of new Green Mark product criteria, 4 new categories of product criteria have been developed, including daily use products such as pillows, shower heads and mops. In addition, 6 existing product criteria have been revised, including mattresses, sanitation paper with recycled content, compost, transformers, and plastic films with recycled content; and 8 product criteria were repealed, including multiple use shopping bags, video media players, wooden toys, wooden furniture, monochrome copy machines, plain paper fax machines, rechargeable batteries, and plant-based inks. These criteria were terminated mostly due to their covered products’ integration into other product categories.
In order to maintain the consistency of certifications among different certification organizations, 2 information seminars have been held. During the seminars, topics on interpretations of new and revised criteria, requirements on contents of application materials, and processing of applications were discussed, so as to maintain the consistency among certification organizations regarding interpretations of criteria and application processing.
Two specific (targeting information technology products and service sectors) information seminars were also held to provide information related to application process and focus of certification audits. These seminars are helpful for potential applicants in understanding the development of Green Mark, results of program implementation, focus points of application and certification process, and actions after obtaining certification, so that they can be better prepared and willing to submit applications. The participants of the seminars are also encouraged to voice their comments and concerns, which can serve as important inputs for the Green Mark review process.
Regarding provision of assistance to testing organizations or laboratories in applying for official or provisional registration of certified tests for designated test items, the following test items have received provisional registration status: energy consumption of elevators (TÜV Rheinland- Taiwan), dispersion of sanitation paper (SGS-Taiwan), and content of hexavalent chromium in industrial cleaners.
During the year, all newly developed or revised criteria have been translated into English versions at the time they are published, so that both Mandarin and English versions of the criteria are available to the users. This translation effort has covered 10 revised criteria and 7 new criteria this year.
Regarding practical applications of environmental benefit indicators for Green Mark products, planning has been conducted on the mandatory data required to be submitted during application to use the Green Mark logo, and the Green Mark information system developer has been aware of the proposed entries of required data. Also under planning are the data unit and format to be used while licensees report their information on Green Mark usage. In addition, quantified analysis of environmental benefits for Green Mark products has been conducted using data sets for green purchasing of government agencies, private sector entities and organization, and reported number of Green Mark logo usage.
This year, the Green Mark implementation organization, EDF, attended the 2017 GEN Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Stockholm, Sweden. EDF was also the only non-Nordic ecolabeling organization invited to present at the accompanying international conference. The EDF presentation was positively viewed and deemed able to demonstrate EDF’s technical leadership in ecolabeling. Mr. Chin-Yuan Chen, Vice President of EDF, previously assigned by the GEN Board of Directors to implement the project on the study of GEN’s performance indicators, was also asked to chair a post-AGM workshop on this topic. Results from this study have been well accepted at the AGM, and the resulting data requests are to be incorporated into the annual GEN member survey. EDF’s successful implementation of this project is deemed capable of demonstrating its technical leadership in this research area, and be constructive for EDF’s effort in seeking a successful reelection of the GEN Director position in 2018.
In recent years, entering into mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) has reemerged as a new trend among GEN members. However, due to the high turnover of personnel involved in these agreements, pursuits of continuing cooperation among these members have been difficult. In order to make full use of past experiences in entering MRAs, it may be beneficial for EDF to expand the scope of organizations involved in MRAs, with the initial focus on organizations located in the countries selected in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.
Regarding the project’s future work, besides paying attention to the development and status of domestic and foreign ecolabeling programs, responding to views and comments expressed by Green Mark licensees and applicants, and organizing relevant informational seminars, it is recommended that future work of the Green Mark Program should recognize the international trend in decreasing introduction of new product criteria, and decide on the need to introduce new product criteria after considering the proposals on new product criteria submitted by manufacturers, trade/industry associations, interested parties, relevant organizations and government agencies.
At present, Green Mark product criteria on water saving equipment contain a requirement that certified products meet the requirements of the Water-saving Label. However, in 2016, the Legislative Yuan passed a regulation that forbids the future sale of 11 water saving equipment (including toilets and washing machines, etc.) without the Water-saving Label certification. As there are two levels (Gold-level and General-level) of Water-saving Label certified products, it is recommended that Green Mark product criteria be revised to meet the Gold-level criteria of Water-saving Label in order to demonstrate Green Mark product’s superiority.
During the Green Mark program implementation, comments and opinions of manufacturers and trade associations were routinely considered. For example, due to the revisions in international requirements, the Green Mark tire criteria have incorporated inputs from the Rubber Manufacturers’ Association; applicants were often deterred by the complexity of Green Mark criteria for service sectors, therefore, the revision of criteria for Green Mark-certified hotels should be considered as a priority; during the follow-up surveillance activities, non-conformances related to heavy metal content of plastic parts used in original toner cartridges are common, and part of the reason being that exemption of heavy metal content has not been incorporated into the current criteria, and this issue should be addressed in future revisions.
This year’s revision of Guidelines for Green Mark Implementation focused on management of post-certification products. It is recommended that informational seminars be offered to all Green Mark licensees which will enable them to be aware of proper management practices for management of Green Mark certified products and usage of Green Mark logo. These seminars can also be used to inform licensees and interested parties of the proper means to conduct product environmental declaration and continuing conformance to relevant requirements, so that the integrity and conformity of the Green Mark certified products can be maintained.
Regarding future international cooperation activities, it is recommended that continuing funding be provided to support activities in this area, implement existing mutual recognition agreements with other ecolabeling programs, and expand organizations and scope involved in future cooperation projects. Doing so will allow Taiwan’s Green Mark Program to maintain its internationally leading status, and allow Taiwan’s green product manufacturers to expand international green business opportunities. Furthermore, in line with Taiwan’s Southbound Policy, pursuing these activities will allow Taiwan to provide technical assistance to emerging ecolabeling programs in the Southeast Asia region, assist them in becoming members of the GEN, maintain our influence in GEN, and increase the number of our allies among GEN members. In this aspect, it is recommended that proactive assistance be provided, such as actively participate in the GENICES assessment process, or provide funding to GEN activities, including sponsoring and organizing GEN Board meetings and Annual General Meetings, and continuing our participation and influence within the GEN sphere.