Singapore’s 20-year-old green labeling scheme is branching out into Southeast Asia to promote greener products, even as it employs more sophisticated technology to educate consumers.
The Singapore Green Labeling Scheme (SGLS), managed by local non-profit Singapore Environment Council (SEC), will first expand to Malaysia and Indonesia where it already has a presence before going into Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Green labeling certification schemes are used to indicate to customers that consumer and industrial products meet minimum environmental standards.
SEC chairman Isabella Loh said on Friday at a ceremony marking the scheme’s 20th year, “We are always looking for ways to make our Green Label more informative and credible.”
To date, SEC has certified 211 products from Malaysia and 58 products from Indonesia under the scheme.
Ms Loh said that SEC would develop labels with a QR code, which is a code that consumers can scan to verify a product’s certification and learn more about the product, such the expiration date of the certification.
She noted that promoting SGLS abroad has been made easier by the scheme’s acceptance last November into the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), an international non-profit association of independent eco-labelling organisations that allows certification to be standardised across countries.
The GEN certification qualifies SEC to sign agreements with eco-labelling agencies in other countries, which will reduce the cost and effort required for manufacturers to have their green products recognised abroad and make it easier to market green products internationally.
Ms Loh said the network agreements would save companies time and money by reducing the duplication of testing in multiple countries.
Liew Kah Mun, chief executive of aluminium product manufacturing firm Archicom, said in a statement, “Getting our products certified under the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme was a decision that opened up many new markets and opportunities for us.”
He added that the certification had given the company a marketing edge and allowed it to capitalise on Singapore’s shift towards green construction.
Other improvements announced by SEC include a new partnership with the Singapore Accreditation Council, a national agency operating under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to monitor its certification process.
In the coming year, SEC also plans to upgrade its criteria for existing products, add about 20 new product standards and switch to a paperless on-line application system for their products, said Ms Loh.
Originally a government programme, SGLS has been managed by the independent non-profit SEC since 1999 and has certified 2060 products thus far, ranging from consumer goods to construction materials. To be certified, products are tested at external testing centres, and undergo re-assessments yearly.
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Ms Grace Fu, said in a keynote speech that green labeling was an important part of the concerted efforts needed by all sectors – government, corporate and private – on sustainable development.
“Only when you provide consumers with information, are they empowered to make informed decisions,” she said.