Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) yesterday said it had resumed using environmental certification labels, a year after the company had been suspended by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) from using them for irregularities, on its old computer products.
However, the PC vendor confirmed that it could not apply for energy-saving labels on its new products until February next year, after the administration suspended the company’s rights to use the labels for one year as a punishment.
The administration’s green labels — including its eco-label, energy-saving label, water-saving label, green building material label and carbon footprint label — serve as a guide for consumers seeking products that cause less damage to the environment.
The labeling method is part of the government’s efforts to encourage manufacturers to design and produce environmentally friendly products.
Asustek made the remarks in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange after the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the administration caught the company applying energy-saving labels awarded to old computer models on its new products.
By mislabeling its products, Asustek allegedly secured more than NT$10 billion (US$340 million) in government procurement contracts and created unfair competition in the local market, the paper said, adding that vice chairman Jonathan Tsang (曾鏘聲) had been questioned by prosecutors over the alleged mislabeling.
“In July last year, the EPA informed the company it was rectifying its application procedures for certification labeling by suspending the use of some labels and barring us from applying for new labels for one year,” Asustek spokesman David Chang (張偉明) said in the filing.
The punishment took effect in February this year and will continue through February next year, according to the company.
Chang said the company has since taken the necessary actions to fulfill the adiminstration’s requirements for certification labeling and he expects the issue to have little impact on the company’s business.
The filing also said the report that Tsang had been questioned by prosecutors was not true, adding that the company would reserve the right to sue Apple Daily for damaging the reputation of Asustek.
Following the newspaper report, Asustek shares fell 2 percent to close at NT$220 yesterday, compared with the broader market's 0.29 percent decline. At one point, the stock lost as much as 4.9 percent in early session, the Taiwan Stock Exchange's data showed.
So far this year, the company has seen its shares correct by more than 32 percent, underperforming the TAIEX's 9 percent rise over the same period, as investors worried about little improvement in global PC market and the company's potential for near-term growth.
Meanwhile, the EPA yesterday was questioned by lawmakers of the credibility of its green labels, at a time when the credibility of the government's Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) accreditation system is tainted by the recent edible oil scam caused by Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基), which has gained 17 GMP labels from the Industrial Development Bureau.
EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan that the administration has found four Asustek products that violated the regulation in February, so with the penalty points accumulated from these violations, it prohibited the company from applying for the green label within a year.
However, Shen did not promise legislators that the EPA would conduct a thorough examination on all products that gained the green labels, saying it would be too difficult to achieve.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia