Tue, Apr 14, 2009 - Page 2 News List

EPA’s green shopping plan sparks controversy

CAREFUL SPENDING? Some environmentalists questioned whether it was wise to encourage people to buy green, rather than to purchase fewer goods

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

To mark upcoming environmental events including Earth Day and World Environment Day, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday launched a series of shopping events to encourage people to choose eco-friendly products.

However, some environmentalists criticized the plan for promoting “green purchases” rather than encouraging people to spend only when necessary.

For the first event in the series, EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) lauded 18 private businesses for making green purchases that exceeded NT$20 million (US$600,000) last year.

“Last year, the EPA expanded green purchases from both the government and the private sector, helping 1,088 businesses and groups choose green products for their offices. Together, the amount spent on green products was NT$2.2 billion, triple the amount in 2007,” Shen said at a press conference yesterday.

Businesses that received awards from the administration for spending more than NT$20 million last year included Formosa Plastics Group, China Steel, Far Eastern Telecom and HSBC.

“Besides lauding these businesses, the events will include an online quiz for Web users on green living tips, online green product sales and various promotional activities,” Shen said.

The online quiz will last from Wednesday to May 10, with Web surfers who correctly answer environmentally related questions rewarded with printable coupons.

From May 11 to June 10, an online game called Green Living and Happy Learning will allow Web surfers to accumulate points, with top-ranking players rewarded with prizes such as laptops, Shen said.

Discount-priced green products including eco-friendly detergents, stationary and clothes will also be sold online between April 22 and June 5.

However, Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said: “Instead of teaching people to buy, the government should lead by example and teach people to save the earth by [buying new things] only when necessary, rather than justifying their purchases by saying that these things are ‘green.’”

In addition, Pan said: “Businesses that purchase a lot of green products do not necessarily need to be praised.

“Whether a business is green or not should be decided by all stages of its production — such as the mining, production, transportation and waste stages — rather than by how many products it buys,” Pan said.

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