Since 1997, the Green Mark Ecolabelling Program (“Program”) has stipulated successively in its product criteria for electrical and electronic product categories that the contents of 7 restricted substances (cadmium, lead, hexavalent chromium, mercury, polybromobiphenyls (PBBs), polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and short-chain chlorinated paraffins) in the plastic parts of these products, “shall be below the regulatory limits”. In response to the recent international environmental trend of using more recycled plastic materials, it is becoming more difficult for the manufacturers to control whether the recycled plastic materials used contain these 7 restricted substances. Therefore, the Program is currently reviewing the requirements on restrictions of such substances.
At present, the Program’s product criteria only provide the restriction exemption for lead content in recycled plastic components and parts. With the increasing uses of recycled plastics in products, it is necessary to review restrictions on the contents of these 7 substances. As the recycled plastics do indeed contain greater hazardous substances, the Program will conduct review of relevant requirements for restricted substances in recycled plastics parts and components in the near future, and make the necessary revisions to relevant requirements, so that they can be more reflective of the increasing trends for using more recycled plastics in products’ parts or components.
Through results from conducting questionnaire survey on the manufacturers, it is evident that the information sessions and consulting work related to expanding applications for usage of Green Mark have gradually produced results, which greatly reduce the occurrence that the industry cannot successfully apply for the Green Mark because they do not understand the application procedures or product criteria. However, some manufacturers still report that preparation efforts for some application documents are quite time-consuming. In addition, due to the different environmental claims of various Green Mark product criteria, it is very difficult to have a uniform format for required documents applicable to different product criteria. However, in the future, a management system should be set up for common application documents, such as the basic information for applicant’s company/factory, which can be convenient for applicants to refer to during the application process. In addition, the issuance of digital Green Mark certificates should indeed be considered at present.
Regarding the development and revision of product criteria, revisions of 6 product criteria have been completed, namely thermal insulation materials for construction, household paper, toilet paper, packaging products using recycled paper, and products made from recycled plastics and rubber. For new criteria, the research and development work for the draft criteria on water-saving faucets and accessories has been completed. In addition, in line with the development of Taiwan EPA’s future policy and to reflect the society’s major current affairs, at the beginning of 2022, the research and development actions for the draft criteria of two product categories (new criteria for offices, and revised criteria for fire extinguishers) have been completed. Both criteria are now scheduled for further development actions next year, ahead of original schedule.
This year, approvals for three certified laboratory testing items have been completed. In addition, after detailed laboratory evaluation, it was found that the demand for 2 test items, tris(2,3-dibromopropyl)-phosphate, and tris(1-aziridinyl)phosphorus for the textiles has been quite high, so that SGS decided to cancel the approval registration of the two tests and instead applied for TAF approvals.
Regarding the compilation and statistics of environmental benefits achieved through Green Mark implementation, the quantification and analysis of the data related to green procurement conducted by both the public and private sectors, and numbers of Green Mark usage have been completed. The complied data were used to calculate the environmental benefits achieved through implementation of green procurement, including benefits related to electricity savings, water savings, and waste reduction.
In terms of participation in international ecolabelling activities, due to the global Covid pandemic, the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) for 2022 was held online. During the online AGM, on behalf of the Taiwan Green Mark Program, the EDF representative presented the "Analysis Report for the Development of Common Core Criteria for Participating Countries". In addition, the Executive Director of EDF was assigned by the Board of GEN this year to conduct the peer-review assessment of the ecolabelling program in Sri Lanka (Eco Label Sri Lanka).
Regarding the promotion of private sector green consumption in the future, it is important to learn from the successful experiences of other countries, and maintain the willingness of the industries to cooperate in this area, through offering rewards of positive corporate images, substantial economic incentives and positive feedback loop. The Program should strive to revise existing product criteria continuously, and adopt stakeholders' inputs while developing new criteria, so as to avoid the occurrence of newly developed or revised criteria not meeting the market needs.
For the promotion of greater applications for Green Mark usage, the Program can cooperate with the environmental protection bureaus (EPBs) of local governments’ consultation policy for promoting Green Mark applications, and invite officials from the EPBs and their contracted environmental consultants to participate in the information sessions for consultants offering Green Mark application consulting services. Through attending the information session, participating consultants will be better able to advise applicants in correctly applying for Green Mark, and resolve the problems often encountered during the application process and relevant operations. Alternatively, the central government could advise local governments on resolving implementation issues for Green Mark promotion through a professional consultation mechanism, assist them with becoming familiar with the overall application process, and encourage the EPBs of local governments to advise local industries in applying for Green Mark.
The overall goals of the Program are to maintain the integrity and transparency of the Green Mark ecolabel through continuous activities in gathering of foreign ecolabelling information, participation in international activities, developing and revising relevant product criteria, managing certified products, and providing information through information sessions and promotion activities, so as to continuously increase the trust of the government and the public in the Green Mark.