Haze raises demand for green label

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 21 Nov 15;

The recent haze episode has resulted in a green awakening that is spurring more companies to certify their products as environmentally friendly, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) said yesterday.

Since the haze started in late September, the council has received between 30 and 40 enquiries from companies looking to certify their products under the SEC's Singapore Green Labelling Scheme.

Of these, at least 12 of them are companies that want to certify consumer products, such as paper, with the green label.

"Before the haze episode, we received an average of just one or two enquiries from companies looking to certify consumer products," Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, SEC's head of eco-certifications and lead environmental engineer, told the media yesterday.

Under the SEC's labelling scheme, companies must submit information, with supporting documents from laboratories, on aspects such as manufacturing processes, materials used and packaging, to SEC.

New applications cost $1,500, and yearly renewals cost $1,000. The timeline for approval is typically about two months.

The SEC has awarded the green label to about 3,200 products so far, with around 20 per cent being consumer products.

The rest are industrial products such as cement and paint. The use of such green-certified products is a prerequisite for builders looking to have their developments certified as environmentally friendly under green building schemes.

SEC executive director Edwin Seah said: "The haze presented the opportunity to get consumers to be more aware about buying sustainable products... and we don't want that to go to waste."

He said the council wants to keep up the momentum by working closely with schools and government agencies to increase outreach efforts, and with retailers to make it more convenient for shoppers to make green choices. Measures include, for instance, working with supermarkets to formulate green lanes, or making certified products more visible on the shelves.

The SEC also hopes to work with more community development councils to come up with workshops and biodiversity trails.

Mr Seah said: "Simply hard-selling the message of why it is important to buy green products may cause people to tune out.

"We have to look at different ways of upgrading the messaging by establishing a link between what they see, like nature and biodiversity, and what they buy."

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