Business gears up to mitigate climate change
November 7, 2009

Climate change specialists call on industry to adapt to climate change by designing facilities and products that can resist extreme weather changes and by diversifying their raw material sources to integrate elements that will produce fewer emissions and require fewer inputs.

Climate change has been blamed for the series of environmental and weather disasters like the onslaught of destructive typhoons like Ondoy and Pepeng. Industry can help mitigate problems associated with climate change.

In the Philippines, some products have been awarded the Green Choice Seal of Approval for meeting government regulations that respond to the threat of climate change, and in emerging consumer preferences.

The Green Choice Seal of Approval is the only third-party and multiple-criteria based seal of approval on enviČronmental claims that is being espoused by the government. Some 11 locally available products have found to be environmentally preferable, based on ISO 14024.

Green Choice Philippines certifies that these products are eco-friendly, after having gone through stringent evaluation by the National Ecolabelling Board comprised of experts in various technical fields. Ecolabelling, or environmental labeling, is the international practice of putting a label to a product or service, which identifies the over-all environmental preference within the specific product/service category based on life cycle considerations. An ecolabel is awarded by an impartial third party to products or services proven to meet established environmental leadership criteria.

Awarding the Green Choice Seal is the major activity under the National Ecolabelling Programme-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP) being administered by the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI). This non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization seeks "to formulate, initiate, undertake, promote, sponsor, assist, support and/or finance projects, programs, and activities to cleanse, improve, rehabilitate and develop the environment in a clean, healthy, and sustainable state."

Ecolabelling and green production are among the major areas that will be discussed by some 300 industry, government and civil society representatives who will meet during the GP3 Conference 2009 on November 12-13 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia to reflect on the 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.

The activity will also feature green products given the Green Seal of Choice, and their producers. Among others, the Green Choice Seal of Approval has been given to Cement makers CEMEX Philippines' Solid Cement Corporation and APO Cement Corporation for their environmentally preferable products and services. CEMEX Philippines is the first cement company and only the third Filipino company to receive the distinctive Green Choice Seal for its products, particularly Island Portland Cement, CEMEX Palitada King, and Rizal Super. Its Solid Cement Corporation plant is based in Antipolo.

CEMEX implements environment-efficient programs that bring down emission levels to a minimum. It has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, especially that of carbon dioxide, by 10 percent through a program to use alternative materials. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of the cement manufacturing process. With this production breakthrough, CEMEX earned the eco-label seal.

"In order to get the Green Choice seal, we needed to show that our products comply with the applicable Philippine National Standards, as well as all applicable environmental laws and regulations," CEMEX Philippines President Sergio Menendez had said.

CEMEX Philippines has also implemented environment friendly operations through corporate social responsibility projects that focus on environmental preservation. In 2008, it adopted the threatened butanding (whale shark) under its Adopt-A-Species program. It also firmly backs the Adopt-A-Species bill which encourages the active participation of the private sector in species conservation by providing a package of incentives.

It helps generate interest in biodiversity preservation through the Hotspots Revisited book, one of CEMEX's many environment-oriented publications that advocate global efforts directed toward conservation.

It also hosts the CEMEX National Art Competition for Children to foster a strong sense of environment responsibility among the young ones, and promote environmental protection and stewardship through the arts. Waste management, coastal clean-ups, and tree planting also form part of the company's environment program. Another cement company, the Cebu-based APO Cement Corporation, earned the Green Choice Seal for its products APO Premium and APO Pozzolan.

Meanwhile, some lubricant products also earned the Green Choice Seal of Approval, such as Veredium's premier lubricant products Agip Extra HTS SAE 5W40, Diesel Sigma Plus SAE 40, and its in-house brand, XTEC Fully Synthetic Engine Oil. Agip's lubricants are the first and only automotive engine oils in the Philippines to receive an environmental seal.

The Seal was given after two years of going through a strict qualification process. Its distributor, Veredium Energy Ventures, Inc. is the exclusive distributor in the Philippines of Italy's no. 1 engine oil brand Agip. By earning the Green Choice Philippines' Ecolabel Seal, Veredium's products have passed an important criterion: minimizing oil wastage.

One of the main criteria of ecolabelled automotive engine oils is the retrieval and disposal of at least 25 percent of all engine oils sold annually. This criterion addresses the "invisible oil spill" where approximately 200 million liters of waste engine oil are unaccounted for every year. Waste engine oil dumped indiscriminately can wreak irreparable damage to the environment.

Ecolabelling criteria have already been developed for lighting products, specifically for lamps and ballasts. This was made possible through a joint initiative by the Philippine Efficient Lighting Market Transformation Project (PELMATP) and the National Ecolabelling Programme-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP) to promote the use of energy efficient, less polluting and safe lighting systems.

In promoting ecolabelling or environmental labeling, PCEPSDI and NELP-GCP have already developed 32 sets of product criteria. They include 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.