After a decade of promoting eco-labeling, Taiwan now ranks fourth in the world in establishing criteria for eco-friendly products, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
The nation has established 80 criteria that have resulted in 2,000 products being awarded the "Green Mark," said Young Chea-yuan (楊之遠), director-general of the EPA's Bureau of Performance Evaluation and Dispute Settlement.
Young said the annual output of products bearing the Green Mark is worth about NT$50 billion, which ranks fourth in the world and second in Asia.
Young said the promotion of eco-labeling had resulted in the saving of 7.7 million trees, 80,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions and 45 million tonnes of water.
"We've used significantly less hazardous chemicals and raw materials as well as improved recycling," Young said yesterday at a press conference.
The government began to promote eco-labeling in 1993, when manufacturers were encouraged to come up with environmentally friendly products that could be recycled, save energy and minimize pollution.
For years, the purchase of environmentally friendly products has been heavily promoted by the UN, which encourages governments to develop policies that promote the public sector's purchase of such products and services.
In 1998, Taiwan became the first country to stipulate that products bearing the Green Mark or those with comparable characteristics should be given priority consideration in government procurement applications.
The Cabinet marked out 27 products commonly used in government offices, including computers, stationery and air-conditioners, and set a goal of spending at least 50 percent of allocated funds on these items.
According to the EPA, the government last year spent NT$2.65 billion on the environmentally friendly products listed by the Cabinet, accounting for 65.6 percent of total purchases.
The nation's achievement has been recognized by the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong, said Yu Ning (于寧), president of the Environment and Development Foundation, whom the EPA entrusted with drawing up eco-labeling regulations.
Yu, who was elected chairwoman of the Global Ecolabelling Network in October, said 29 organizations from 26 countries exchange eco-labeling experience through the non-profit organization.
Yu said that some Green Mark criteria have been recognized by the US, Canada, Korea and Thailand. Discussions are continuing with Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
She said that promoting the purchase of green products in the private sector is another goal.
But Yu said that Germany, Canada and South Korea had performed better than Taiwan in the promotion of eco-labeling.
In Germany, 95 criteria for green products have been established and more than 65 percent of Germans purchase products bearing eco-labels.
"Compared with residents in advanced European countries, Taiwanese consumers care more about price and are lacking in concern for the environment," she said.
Beginning on Dec. 18, the EPA will hold a three-day expo promoting eco-labeling at the Taipei International Convention Center. Nearly 100 eco-friendly products costing NT$1 million, including home appliances, computers and stationery will be handed out via a lottery.