Environmentalist group urges gov't to promote green products
November 7, 2009

As the single biggest buyer of goods and services, the government can promote green products that minimize risk effects and disasters arising from climate change, says former Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun, as she urges government to fully implement the provisions of Executive Order 301 (EO 301) on green procurement.

Gozun chairs the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI). It is a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization that implements the government's National Ecolabelling Programme -Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP), and has awarded the Green Choice Seal of Approval to 11 products found to be environmentally preferable, based on ISO 14024.

EO 301 mandates the Philippine government to establish a Green Procurement Program for all its departments, businesses, offices and agencies of the executive branch, Gozun reminds.

The EO was issued on March 23, 2004, based on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) and the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184). Both laws mandate the government to promote an environmentally informed purchase and use of products and services, considering their price, performance, availability, and safety.

The Green Procurement Program requires the government to include environmental criteria in public tenders, when possible, and establish specification requirements for products and services considered environmentally preferable, based on scientific considerations such as life cycle analysis.

Noting the devastation brought about by destructive typhoons like Ondoy and Pepeng, Gozun said the government should now implement its environmental protection and climate change programs.

"The government should also initiate and promote measures that mitigate climate change and its risks, like energy efficiency and the reduction of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from household, farms, industries, and communities, among others," remarks Gozun.

Based on EO 301, the government should develop an incentive program for suppliers of environmentally advantageous products and services, and promote ecolabelling as an instrument to identify and measure environmental preferability of products and services. The government should purchase products, services in compliance with government's procurement policy and international standards, such as the World Trade Organization Agreement.

Gozun endorses experts' suggestions for an ecofriendly approach to business and sustainable lifestyle change to minimize the destructive impact of climate change, as indicated by disastrous typhoons like Ondoy and Pepeng.

PCEPSDI, Gozun's group, has already come out with product standards for 32 categories, as part of its campaign to promote ecolabelling or environmental labeling, an international system of identifying products and services that reduce environmental impact.

It has already developed product criteria for consumer items like detergents, liquid disinfectants, bath soaps, hair shampoos, crayons and liquid dishwashing products, tissue paper and paper envelopes, writing instruments, and household batteries.

Criteria were also developed for the construction materials like paints, cements, organic infill materials, fire extinguishers, fluorescent lamps, and electronic ballasts.

Already available are the criteria for materials used in office and industries like engine oils, printing and writing paper products, paper boards, inkjet and toner cartridges, desktop and laptop computers, multi-function printing devices, printers, photocopiers, and facsimile machines.

Noting that these products are used by government in its different roles in public administration, Gozun said the government should patronize only green or environment-friendly products and services as part of its environmental protection program.

While many products in the local market have not yet been environmentally assessed, PCEPSDI noted that the government has already inked official partnerships with business and other sectors to monitor and check the proliferation of substandard and unsafe products in the market, aside from the National Ecolabelling Program that it administers.

Ecolabelling, or environmental labeling, as an international system of identifying products and services that reduce environmental impact, will be discussed during the GP3 Conference 2009 on November 12-13 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia.

Convened by the PCEPSDI, in partnership with the govt institutions like DTI-BPS, DENR-EMB, Development Academy of the Philippines, PCSO and PAGCOR, this two-day event will highlight the global trends on environment and green consumerism and look at local initiatives in green production.

GP3 speakers will present the global outlook in the production and use of environmentally preferable products, and discuss ISO 14000 product oriented series standards, such as Environmental Labelling, Life Cycle Analysis and Design for Environment for production aspects, and approaches and strategies in establishing green procurement programs.

Around 300 participants are expected to come from concerned stakeholders such as government organizations, academic and research institutions, policy makers, producers, and non-government organizations.

Top government officers from the Departments of Budget and Management, Finance, Science and Technology, Energy, Tourism, Interior and Local Government, and National Economic and Development Authority, National Solid Waste Management Commission, The Senate, House of Representatives, and selected local government units will also join. Also joining are pollution control officers and procurement officers from selected industries such as energy, electronics, cosmetics, construction, and food; and private and government academic and research institutions.