Certifying green products
By Lin Yuting, The China Post
June 7, 2012, 3:56 pm TWN
The Green Product Mark is a private eco-friendly certification for consumer products offered by TÜV Rheinland, a 140-year-old third-party test house with German origins and an international presence today. It is a comprehensive certification that evaluates the environmental impact of a product in four aspects: responsible use of chemical substances, recyclability and use of recycled materials, energy efficiency and carbon footprint evaluation.
According to Bodo Kretzschmar, director of TÜV Rheinland's Global Technical Competence Center in the Electrical Display and Projector division, it is important to of make environmentally conscious choices in our material economy.
Kretzschmar believes that a day will come when we scavenge in landfills to salvage usable materials such as plastics and metals, and that the question is not whether we will change our ways, but rather “how fast we're going to change.”
Green Initiative as Good Business
As Kretzschmar explains, lobbyists in both public and private sectors first push for strengthening environmental regulation laws, then companies must comply with these regulations in manufacturing their products. Legislation, however, takes years, and in the interim while some companies are passive followers, others are proactive leaders who take initiatives in the eco-movement and gain marketing advantage. “Leaders always have the better share than the followers,” Kretzschmar added.
Here is where a third-party test house such as TÜV Rheinland comes in, to certify a product's environmental credentials. When a manufacturer's claim of a green product is backed by an independent, trustworthy organization such as TÜV Rheinland, consumers are more likely to trust the claim because it can be verified by objective evaluations in terms of responsible use of chemical substances, recyclability and use of recycled materials, energy efficiency and carbon footprint — such as in the case of TÜV 's Green Product Mark.
The standards of the Green Product Mark (GPM) are based on current and upcoming European legislation. In terms of hazardous substances, the GPM already forbids substances such as halogens that will be banned in Europe by 2014.
Worth particular remark is the evaluation of a product's carbon footprint. Several conceptual variations of the criterion exist, but the most definite and therefore comparable conception is “cradle to gate,” meaning the carbon footprint from the start of manufacture to the retail point, evaluated as part of GPM.
Currently, there is no legal requirement on limiting or reducing a product's carbon footprint, yet Kretschmar is confident that such regulations will come in time.
Efficiency is sought not only in the products being tested, but the testing process as well. “Double testing” is avoided. TÜV Rheinland has special labs throughout Asia and the world that undertake testing for the brand's own certification, as well as for other organizations such as TCO, a certifier of information technology equipment (ITE) for business use that grew out of a Swedish labor union of white-collar workers.
Lenovo, Samsung and LG, for example, are leaders among electronics manufacturers that have received the Green Product Mark for their products. Lenovo, in particular, has a monitor and a PC recently certified and has 10 more certification projects in the pipeline, said Kretschmar. During The upcoming COMPUTEX Taipei, now through June 9, is a great opportunity to check out these Green Product Mark-certified products.