Certain companies label their products ‘eco-friendly’, ‘recyclable’, and ‘save energy’, which, however, has confused consumers. Some types of environmental performance labelling – including eco-labelling – have, therefore, been standardised using criteria to ensure credibility and impartiality.
As environmental performance labelling, eco-labelling is useful for governments in encouraging sound environmental practices and for businesses in identifying and establishing markets for their environmentally preferable products (GEN, 2004). Of the three types of environmental labelling under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), eco-labelling is classified as Type I, which, in ISO 12024, is awarded in the form of a mark or logo to products or services once a set of criteria is fulfilled (ISO, 2019). Type II (ISO 14021) provides a self-declared environmental claim while Type III (ISO 14025) provides such declarations based on the quantified data on life-cycle assessment.
In general, eco-labelling involves three steps (GEN, 2004). The first and critical step is selection and determination of product categories, which has a major impact on the eligibility of specific products and uses stringent criteria in each category. The second step is development and adoption of appropriate criteria, standards, or guidelines, which are strict requirements before applications are approved. The third step is certification and licensing, which is the output rewarded to applicants who have complied with the verification, testing, and monitoring processes.
Across ASEAN+3 countries, the government initiative on eco-labelling is classified into three categories: (1) with initiatives and maximum implementation, (2) with initiatives but limited implementation, and (3) without initiatives (AIT, 2016). The first category applies to Japan, China, Republic of Korea (henceforth, Korea), and Singapore; the second to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam; and the third to Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Brunei Darussalam. Table 1 lists the complete status of government initiative on eco-labelling in ASEAN+3 countries.
Sources: UNEP (2014), AIT (2016).
The eco-labelling scheme in some ASEAN+3 countries has been implemented by enabling several standards of compliance, especially for recycled plastics and biodegradable and compostable plastics. The most relevant standard in each country is briefly explained below. The complete set of standards is available in the Industrial Standards for Recycled Products section.
Japan eco-labels plastic products using several standards, such as JIS (Japan Industrial Standard) K 6999: 2004 (Plastics – Identification and display of plastic products). The standard stipulates the unified display of plastic products by harmonising labels for different plastic products for collection or disposal of plastic waste (Kikakurui.com). Eco-labelling is generally promoted through the Eco Mark programme, which awards the Eco Mark label to products with less environmental impact, while educating consumers on how to choose products wisely.
China is implementing eco-labelling through the GB (Guo Biao) Standard of HJ/T 231-2006 (Technical requirement for environmental labelling products – Products made from recycled plastics). China sets requirements for the production of various products from waste plastic as the main raw material, including the restriction on using the products for food packaging (stated in the label) and the provision that at least 80% of recycled content should be used (China National Standards Service Center).
In Indonesia, eco-labelling is implemented through the SNI (Indonesian National Standard) 7188.7:2016 (Eco-labelling criteria – Part 7: Category for plastic and bioplastic shopping bags that easily decompose). The eco-labelling criteria are applicable to plastic and bioplastic bags for retail, with or without printing, which are mainly produced through a blow-film extrusion process. The criteria are designed to support the eco-label accreditation and certification system.
The Philippines implements PNS (Philippine National Standard) 2102:2013 (Specifications for compostable plastics), which specifies procedures and requirements for identification and labelling of plastics and plastic products that are suitable for recovery through aerobic composting. The standard addresses biodegradation, disintegration during composting, negative effects on the composting process and facility, and negative effects on the quality of the resulting compost, including the presence of high levels of regulated metals and other harmful components.
In Malaysia, SIRIM (Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia) Berhad has developed SIRIM ECO 001:2018 and SIRIM ECO 018:2017. SIRIM ECO 001:2018 (Eco-labelling criteria – Biodegradable and compostable plastic and bioplastic), which is the revised version of SIRIM ECO 001:2016, which included only biodegradable and compostable products and excluded photodegradable and oxo-degradable materials (MESTECC, 2018). The revised version contains requirements for biodegradable or compostable plastic intermediate, material, and finished products intended for various domestic and commercial applications to be segregated and disposed of in a controlled facility. SIRIM ECO 018:2017 (Eco-labelling criteria – Recycled plastic products) establishes requirements for the environmental labelling of recycled plastic products for various applications, excluding direct food-contact application (SIRIM Berhad).
Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) (2016), Regional Collaboration on Ecolabelling – Asia Pacific, Deliverable 1: Report on Key Opportunities for Pilot Products, with Policies and Challenges. https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/sites/default/files/report_on_key_opportunities_for_pilot_products_with_policies_and_challenges.pdf (accessed 09 December 2019).
Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS). Philippine National Standards (PNS) Catalogue. http://www.bps.dti.gov.ph/index.php/component/booklibrary/115/show_search?Itemid=115 (accessed 13 December 2019).
China National Standards Service Center. China GB Standards Search System. https://www.gbstandards.org/index.asp (accessed 13 December 2019).
Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) (2004), Introduction to Ecolabelling. https://globalecolabelling.net/assets/Uploads/intro-to-ecolabelling.pdf (accessed 09 December 2019).
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (2019), Environmental Labels. Geneva: ISO. https://www.iso.org/files/live/sites/isoorg/files/store/en/PUB100323.pdf (accessed 09 December 2019).
Kikakurui.com. http://www.kikakurui.com/ (accessed 13 December 2019).
Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change (MESTECC) (2018), Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030. Putrajaya: MESTECC. https://www.mestecc.gov.my/web/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Malaysia-Roadmap-Towards-Zero-Single-Use-Plastics-2018-20302.pdf (accessed 02 October 2019).
National Standardization Body (BSN). SNI List. http://sispk.bsn.go.id/SNI/DaftarList (accessed 13 December 2019).
SIRIM Berhad. SIRIM Standards. https://standards.sirimsts.my/catalog.php?std_type=125 (accessed 13 December 2019).
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2014), Report on Ecolabelling and Sustainable Public Procurement in the ASEAN+3 Region: Development of a Feasibility Study for Regional Ecolabelling Cooperation. http://www.aprscp.net/Document/Final%20Report-EL%20&%20SPP%20in%20ASEAN%20+%203.pdf (accessed 09 December 2019).