Eco-Mark
Policy measure

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) introduced the voluntary labelilng scheme Eco-Mark in 1991, inviting industrial sectors to participate (MPPCB, n.d.)


The MoEF constituted two committees, namely the Steering Committee and the Technical Committee, to identify product categories, develop criteria and coordinate related activities. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) was to assess and certify products and draw up a contract with the manufacturer, allowing the use of the label for a fee. (MPPCB, n.d.)


The specific objectives of the Eco-Mark scheme were (MPPCB, n.d.):

  • “To provide an incentive for manufacturers and importers to reduce environmental impact of products.

  • To reward genuine initiatives by companies to reduce adverse environmental impact of their products.

  • To assist consumers to become environmentally responsible in their daily lives by providing information to take account of environmental factors in their purchase decisions.

  • To ensure citizens to purchase products which have less harmful environmental impacts.

  • Ultimately to improve the quality of the environment and to encourage the sustainable management of resources.”

Implementation

According to MPPCB (n.d.), “for certification under the Eco-Mark scheme the manufacture is to apply testing of products which fall under the notified categories along with fee set by BIS. The testing and certification is to be carried out by BIS. The label shall be awarded for a minimum period of one year and shall roll forward annually.”


The following primary criteria, i.e. parameters, are to be considered to determine whether a product warrants an Eco-Mark, are (MPPCB, n.d.):

  • “Production process including source of raw material.
  • Case of natural resources.
  • Likely impact on the environment.
  • Energy conservation in the production of product.
  • Effect and extent of waste arising from the production process.
  • Disposal of the product and its containers.
  • Utilization as 'waste' and recycled materials.
  • Suitability for recycling or packaging.
  • Biodegradability.”

The MoEF has so far identified 16 products categories to be covered under the labelling scheme (MPPCB, n.d.)

Challenges

The IMM (n.d.) has identified some of the key problem areas for the Eco-Mark as:

  • “Product categories: Arbitrarily chosen, and the quantum of impact of the category on the environment not really considered.
  • Product standards: Relevance to Indian ground realities can be questioned.
  • Standard setting: Not truly objective. Just setting it above the level of other labeling schemes such as the ISI without providing any rationale.
  • Inability to upgrade the standards: Ecomark has no standards for CFLs, while these are most efficient lighting devices available in the market. At the same time, because these are relatively new products, the fiscal policy of the government has ensured that these products are taxed to the tune of 80% to 100%.
  • Turf war among agencies: Expanding environmental criteria to include health and safety aspects have given rise to conflict among food and health agencies and Eco-Mark.”
Outcomes

According to Dey (2007), the “Indian industry did not respond to initiative. No Eco-Mark product is available in the market, though a few companies have taken Eco-mark license for their products from BIS. Consumer awareness about Eco-mark is low as there was hardly any initiative to generate awareness among them.”

References

Dey, D., 2007. Energy Efficiency Initiatives: Indian Experience. ICFAI Business School, Kolkata.  Available at: www.helio-international.org/Dey%20Paper.pdf.


IIMM (Indian Institute of Materials Management), n.d. Competitive Labeling V S. Regulatory Ecolabel - A Look at the Eco Mark Scheme. Available at: www.iimm.org/knowledge_bank/8_competitive-labeling-v-sregulatory-eclabel.htm.


MPPCB (Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board), n.d. ECOMARK. Available at: www.mppcb.nic.in/ecomark.htm.