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Eco-Mark to identify environment friendly products. The Eco-mark scheme

Eco-Mark Scheme

Eco-Mark is an eco-labeling scheme for easy to identify environment friendly products. The Eco-mark scheme defines as an environmentally friendly product, prepared, used, or disposed of in a way that significantly reduces the harm on environment. The Ecomark logo depicted as in Fig 1.

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The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India has constituted a scheme in 1991 on labeling of Environment Friendly Products, even before the India participated 1992 in Rio Summit. It is administered by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which also administrates the Indian Standards Institute (ISI) mark quality label, which has the requirement for any product to gain the Eco-mark label.

The Scheme provide accreditation and labeling for household and other consumer products that would meet certain environmental criteria along with the quality requirements of Indian standards for that product.

 

Concept of Eco labeling Scheme

The concept of ecolabelling has to encourage environment friendly commodities in the market. Agenda 21 recommended governments to promote environmental labelling in order to change consumption patterns and thereby conserving the environment for sustainable development (UNCED, 1992). Ecolabelling was first introduced in Germany in 1978. Now, most of the developed countries and some developing countries including India have established ecolabelling programme. European Union (EU) implemented voluntary ecolabelling programme within member countries in 1992. The summery of eco-mark mark programme of differ countries is given below in Table 1.

 

 

 

Table 1: The name Eco-mark progrmme started with respective year in country wise

Country

Name of Programme

Year Started

Germany

Blue angel

1977

Canada

Environmental Choice

1988

Japan

Ecomark

1989

Nordic Countries

White Swan

1989

New Zealand

Environmental Choice

1990

Sweden

Good Environmental Choice

1990

United States

Green Seal

1990

Austria

Austrian Eco-label

1991

India

Ecomark

1991

European Union

European Flower

1992

France

NF-Environment

1992

South Korea

Ecomark

1992

Singapore

Green Label

1992

The Netherlands

Stichting Milieukeur

1992

Croatia

Environmentally Friendly

1993

Source: www.google.com & Singh et al 2012
 

 

 

The specific objectives of the scheme are as follow (Eco-mark notification 1991):

1. To provide an incentive for manufacturers and importers to reduce adverse environmental impact of products.
2. To reward genuine initiatives by companies to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products.
3. To assist consumers to become environmentally responsible in their daily lives by providing information to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions.
4. To encourage citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environmental impacts
5. Ultimately to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.

 

Figure 1

 

A government operated seal of approval program for environmentally preferable consumer products. The Ecomark label is awarded to consumer goods that meet the specified environmental criteria and the quality requirements of Indian Standards.

Indian Eco Mark

To increase consumer awareness, the Government of India launched the eco-labeling scheme `Ecomark’. The scheme recognized 16 categories of consumer products for the purpose of development of eco-criteria and labelling. So far criteria for 14 categories of product have been finally notified by the Government. Ministry has also launched publicity campaigns for providing necessary awareness among the consumers and manufacturers. Due to lack of the adequate response from the manufacturers this scheme could not become popular.

 

ECOMARK Products (http://www.mppcb.nic.in/ecomark.htm)

The MoEF have identified 16 products categories (Table 2) to be covered under the scheme of Ecomark. The products are:

Table 2: Products come under Eco-mark Scheme

Soaps and detergents

Paints

Paper

Food items

Food additives and preservatives

Wood Substances

Textiles

Batteries

Lubricating oil 

Packaging

Plastics

Aerosols

Cosmetics

Pesticides & drugs

Vegetable Oils

 Electronic goods

 

 

Administrative and Organisational Structure or Operational Structure (Three committees)

There will be three stages leading to the award of the “ECOMARK”: (Eco-mark notification 1991)

1. Steering Committee – A steering committee, set up in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to determine the product categories for coverage under the scheme and also formulate strategies for promotion, implementation, future development and improvements in the working of the scheme.

2. Technical Committee – A technical committee, set up in the Central Pollution Control Board, to identify the specific product to be selected and the individual criteria to be adopted, including, wherever possible, inter-se priority between the criteria if there be more than one.

3. Bureau of Indian Standards – The Bureau of Indian Standards to assess and certify the products and draw up a contract with the manufacturers, allowing the use of the label, on payment of a fee.

 

In Details about mentioned three committees

1. Steering Committee

The Government of India has set up a Committee in the Ministry of Environment and Forests and notified on March 6, 1991 (Table 3). The Ministry of Environment and Forests determines the categories of the products for coverage under the scheme and also formulate strategies for promotion by creating mass awareness, implementation, future development and improvement in working of the scheme. This Committee ensures involvement of other ministries, industries, associations’ non- governmental organizations and it is responsible for notifying final criteria in the Gazette of India.

Table 3: Members of Steering Committee

o.

Authority

Designation

1

Secretary, Deptt. of Environment & Forests

Chairman

2

Secretary, Ministry of Industry (or his    representative)

Member

3

Secretary, Deptt. of Civil Supplies

Member 

4

Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals & Petro-Chemicals (or his representative)

Member

5

Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture (or his representative)

Member

6

Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (or his representative)

Member

7

Director General of Technical Development (or his representative)

Member

8

Director General, CSIR (or his representative)

Member

9

Director General, Health Services, (or his representative)

Member 

10

Development Commissioner, Small Scale industries (or his representative)

Member

11

Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board

Member

12

Officer In-charge, ‘ECOMARK’ in the Ministry of Environment & Forests,

Member Secretary

 

Besides above central Govt. shall nominate not more than five non-officials to represent the interests of industry, consumer groups or other NGOs of which at least two will represent consumer groups.

Functions of the Technical Committee

v  Identification of specific products for classifying as environment friendly.

v  Reviewing the existing State of knowledge and the environmental criteria being followed in other countries.

v  Recommend the most appropriate criteria and parameters to designate various products as environment friendly.

v  Review various technologies available for determining criteria.

v  Recommend various laboratories and analysis for products assessment to the MoEF.

v  Evaluation of Environmental Import of products.

v  To review implementation of the scheme by BIS.

v  Set up Sub-committee for each product category.

v  Setting up of expert panels to advise it for specific products.

 

2. Technical Committee

The Ministry set up a Technical Committee on March 6, 1991 and subcommittees for each product categories with expert in field for drafting the criteria. The Technical Committee (Table 4) recommends the most suitable criteria and publishes draft final criteria. The Technical sub-Committees consider the comments/ suggestions received on the draft notification, finalize the criteria and recommend to the Steering Committee for final notification.

The Committee advises and recommends product categories as well as evolves the detailed criteria for the award of the Eco Mark. The Committee consists of members having specific expertise and representatives of the industry affected, the scientific community, environmentalists’ consumer groups and government. The product selected and criteria defined are reviewed in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in the light of comments from various interest groups. The Ministry then notifies the criteria for the various product categories.

Table 4: Composition of Technical Committee

S. No

Authority

Designation

1

Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board

Chairman

2

Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.

Member 

3

Director,  NEERI, Nagpur,

Member

4

Director, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune

Member 

5

Director General, National Test House, Calcutta.

Member

6

Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Institute, Lucknow

Member

7

Director, National Institute of Occupational Safety

Member

8

Officer In-charge, ‘ECOMARK Scheme’ CPCB

Member Secretary

 

Besides above, the Central Govt. shall nominate not more than five non-officials to represent the interests of industry and consumer groups.

3. (Bureau of Indian Standards) Executing Agency

The Bureau of Indian Standards has been designated as the executive agency for the scheme. On receipt of application for the award of the Eco Mark, the Bureau of Indian Standards/Directorate of Marketing & Inspection/Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and storage organizes and inspection of the manufacturer’s units to make an appraisal of the control exercised during production and the facilities available for carrying out tests on raw materials and on the final product. Only after the certifying agency has satisfied itself that the manufacturer has given a license to affix the Eco Mark on the product. Every license includes a well-defined scheme for testing and Inspection (STI), which the licensee has to follow strictly.

Functions of Bureau of Indian standards

v  Assess the product for ECOMARK, certify the product for award of the Ecomark.

v  Review, suspend or cancel or license, for the use of Ecomark.

v  Inspect and monitor the industries.

Certification and Licensing

For certification under ECOMARK scheme the manufacture shall apply testing of products which fall under the notified categories along with fee set by BIS. The testing and certification shall be carried out by BIS. The label shall be awarded for a minimum period of one year and shall roll forward annually.

Criteria for ECOMARK 

Primary criteria i.e. parameters to be considered for determining product for ECOMARK is as follows:

v  Production process including source of raw material.

v  Case of natural resources.

v  Likely impact on the environment.

v  Energy conservation in the production of product.

v  Effect and extent of waste arising from the production process.

v  Disposal of the product and its containers.

v  Utilization as ‘waste’ and recycled materials.

v  Suitability for recycling or packaging.

v  Biodegradability.

Evaluation criteria

1. Less potential of pollution than other comparable products in production, usages and disposal.

2. Recycled, recyclable, made from recycled products or biodegradable, where comparable products are not

3. Make significant contribution to saving nonrenewable resources, including non-nonrenewable energy sources and natural resources, compared with comparable products.

4. Product must contribute to a reduction of the adverse primary criteria, which has the highest environmental impact associated with the use of products and which will be specially set for each of the product categories.

In determining the primary criteria for a product the following shall be taken

(a) Production process including source of raw material;(b) Case of Natural Resources;(c) Likely impact on the environment;(d) Energy conservation in the production of the product;(e) Effect & extent of waste arising from the production process;(f) Disposal of the product and its container;(g) Utilization of “Waste” and recycled materials;(h) Suitability for recycling or packaging(i) Biodegradability;

The criteria shall be reviewed from time to time. Thc draft criteria shall be release for public comments for a period of sixty days.

6. Period of Award:

The label shall be awarded for a minimum period of one year and shall roll forward annually. The Bureau of Indian Standards has the powers to withdraw the licence at any time if they find any misleading information. The award may also be withdrawn in case of any change in criteria due to the advancement of technology or any other valid reasons, in consultation with the technical committee. The time period of the award may be reviewed from time to time.

7. The Logo:

The Logo for the ‘ECOMARK” shall be as notified by the Central Government. The earthen pot (Figure 1) has been chosen as the logo for the Ecomark scheme in India. A familiar earthen pot uses renewable resources like earth, does not produce hazardous waste and consumes little energy in making. It’s solid and graceful form represents both strength and fragility, which also characterizes our eco-system. The logo for the ecomark scheme, signify that the product which carries it does the least damage to the environment.

8. Consumer Awareness:

The Ministry of Environment & Forests shall take appropriate measures to launch a country wide mass awareness campaign, including encouraging consumer groups. Assistance will be given to consumer organizations for comparative testing of products and dissemination of information to the public.

 

Benefits of Eco-Mark (https://www.iisd.org)

1. Informing consumer choice

Eco-Mark is an effective & easy way to informing customers regarding the environmental impacts of selected products. It helps people to differentiate products which are harmful to the environment and empowers to choose compatible products with fulfill environmental needs. Customer has more aware the benefits of available products, example, recycled paper or toxic-free cleaning agents. It also promotes energy efficiency, waste minimization and product stewardship.

2. Promoting economic efficiency

Eco-mark empowers to customers and manufacturers to formulate environmentally supportive decisions and the need for regulation to minimum harm to environment. This is beneficial for both government and industry.

3. Encouraging market growth

When customers select eco-labeled products, then market is directly affected by impact on supply and demand of eco-labeled products, which guides the market towards greater environmental awareness.

4. Encouraging continuous improvement

The full of eco-labeled products in market promotes the corporate commitments towards environmental improvement continuously. Consumers can expect to understand the environmental impacts of products decline over time.

5. Promoting certification

The environmental certification program is an approval that a product meets a certain eco-label standard and full fill the require objectives. It provides visible evidence of the product’s desirability from an environmental perspective to consumers. Therefore, certification has an educational role for customers and promotes competition among manufacturers.  Certified products have a prominent logo, which help to inform customer choices. Eco-labeled logo may encourage manufacturers to reform or re-engineer of products to make less harmful for the environment.

6. Assisting in monitoring

The environmental claims by the manufactures can be more easily monitored from the official eco-labeling program. Competitors and customers are in a better position to judge the validity of a claimed product.

 

The Reasons to failure Eco-Mark Scheme in India (https://ecosafesibm.wordpress.com)

Lack of Efforts

The long time period was spent to make product criteria and no efforts were expended for promoting the awareness.

Improper Marketing strategies

Most of Indian consumers are not aware about the concept of an eco-label or even any existence of an eco-label in India
The government attempted to create awareness about Eco-Mark by publishing a magazine entitled “Wista Ecomark” in 1999-2000. But, fail to spread the desired awareness

Lack of Political efforts

The scheme was set up in 1991, under the regime of well-known environmental activist Maneka Gandhi (Minister of Environments and Forests). But after that, no any political party and person had shown clear cut agenda regarding Eco-Mark scheme.

Complexity

The Eco-Mark scheme has made cocktail amongst environmental criteria and Bureau of Indian Standards. The dual set of criteria led to more complexity for the evaluation process.

CAG request to Govt should review Ecomark scheme (CAG Report on Eco-mark, 2017)

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have asked the government to review the Ecomark scheme (http://www.business-standard.com). The CAG has recommended inclusion of more products and give licences. Now, “The (environment) ministry should also carry out environmental impact studies of such products,” said the CAG in its recent report titled, “Waste Management in India.” Now, only 16 products categories are under Ecomark scheme in India, it has required increasing.

The comparison between other countries like Japan, Norway, Iceland and Denmark where, large number of manufacturers have chosen environment friendly products. Japan was introduced Ecomark scheme in 1989 and have aim to spread and encourage consumers to choose environment friendly products. Now, 5176 items come under 64 product categories in Japan, it is far far greater than Indian scheme. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark under their “The Nordic Swan” plan introduced in 1989 have developed 60 products categorized and awarded the label to over 1,200 products. Similarly, Taiwan under its Green Mark Programme has 41 product categories with 451 products already awarded the eco-label.

However, in India, the government admitted that the Ecomark products were not being widely used.

 

Bibliography

Benefits of Eco-Mark. https://www.iisd.org/business/markets/eco_label_benefits.aspx

CAG Report (29 January 2017). http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/govt-should-review-ecomark-scheme-cag-108122601031_1.html

Eco-mark notification 1991, MOEFF (Ecomark Scheme of India ): http://envfor.nic.in/public-information/ecomark-scheme-india-ecomark-ecomark-labelling

Eco-mark: http://www.mppcb.nic.in/ecomark.htm

Failure of Eco-mark. https://ecosafesibm.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/why-eco-mark-failed-in-india/

Singh, A. P., Raman, N. S., & Waghe, U. P. (2012). Int. J. Pharm. Med,  Ecomark Scheme in India

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