Green purchasing group launched, new ecoproducts identified
November 16, 2009

A new network of environmentalist groups, the Green Purchasing Alliance Movement (GPAM), was launched during the 2ndGP3 Conference 2009 held on November 12-13 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia. The conference had 300 participants.

Paul Hamoy, one of GPAM's lead organizers, made a call to entrepreneurs, saying "Producing only ecological products make good business sense." He asked government to implement its own directive to promote environmental protection by buying only green or ecological products.

Hamoy is immediate past president of Philippine Institute of Supply Management that represents 300 companies advocating green procurement, the preferential purchase of only green products. The conference carried the theme "Green Consumerism: A way forward to cushion the impact of climate change" and was held to highlight global trends on environment and green consumerism and look at local initiatives in green production. GP3 stands for Green Productivity, Green Purchasing towards Green Philippines.

"We are encouraging all manufacturers and service providers that are going into 'green business' to apply for the Green Choice Seal to communicate to consumers that their product is truly environmentally-preferable over other products," says June Alvarez, executive director of the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc., a non-government member of GPAM and one of the conference organizers. "Environmentally compliant companies and products will also have an edge over their competi tors as they will be given priority in all procurement activities by government based on Executive Order 301 on green procurement," Alvarez adds.

GPAM was formed during a consultative meeting held October 15, and attended by 52 representatives of government, private sector and non-government organizations. GPAM members are advocates of ecolabelling or environmental labeling, a system of assessing products based on their impact on the environment. GPAM promotes green purchasing, or buying only environmentally preferable, or green, products and services.

A green product or service has less negative environmental impact throughout its life cycle and performs excellently while in use. It prevents, limits, reduces, and corrects negative impacts on water, air, and soil. Green products have less environment and health-damaging elements, low emission and production of pollutants, and are recyclable, resource saving and energy efficient. GPAM counts enterprises among its members. They include conglomerates like San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Corporation, and Nestle Phils.

Members also include Cemex Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, Mapecon Green Charcoal Philippines, Ricoh Philippines, SN Aboitiz, Falcon Water-Free Philippines, Mariwasa, Monrio, Globe Telecom Phils., Honda Cars Makati, AGC Flat Glass Phils., Suntra International Trading, Air Liquide Phils, Alveo Land Corp. Amon Trading Corp., and Sycwin Coating and Wires.

Government representatives in GPAM also include those from the Bureau of Product Standards and Supreme Court.

During the conference, two products received the prestigious Green Choice Seal of Approval. Paper produced by United Pulp and Paper Company Inc. (UPPCI) and LVD induction lamp luminaire produced by the Monrio, Philippines have been found by a technical panel to have minimized their impact on the environment based on a set of criteria developed under the NELP-GCP.

To refrain from cutting down trees, paper products developed by UPPCI use 100 percent recycled fiber. They also have lowered content of dyes, bleaching agents and other chemicals used in paper production.

Testing of UPPCI's products was done by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute, an agency under the Department of Science and Technology, and the Societe General de Surveillance.

Meanwhile, the LVD induction lamp luminaire developed by the Monrio Industrial Corp. won the Green Seal Choice for eliminating carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls in its production, lowered mercury content and high quality of performance. Monrio has submitted different certifications from internationally recognized bodies to support its claim that their product is of high quality, based on improved average life, lumen depreciation, power factor and total harmonic distortion. The firm has inked a partnership with another company to ensure safe retrieval and disposal of its busted lamps.

The Green Seal of Choice won by the two products is awarded to encourage companies to produce only ecological products thatreduce environmental impact. To date, 13 products have been awarded the Green Seal of Choice. Effective for three years, the Green Seal of Choice is the only third-party and multiple-criteria based seal of approval on envi ronmental claims that is being espoused by the government. It is awarded by the National Ecolabelling Programmes-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP) being administered by the non-government organization Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Inc. (PCEPSDI).

PCEPSDI and NELP-GCP are among the organizers of the GP3 conference held November 12-13 where four internationally known specialists and some 300 representatives of government, business, and civil society participated.

The participants discussed the global outlook in the production and use of environmentally preferable products, and ISO 14000 product oriented series standards that are the basis for products to be adjudged ecological or with low environmental impact.

Among the issues covered in the conference were environmental labeling or ecolabelling; seven sins of green washing or making false environmentalist claims; life cycle analysis and design for environment for production aspects; and approaches and strategies in establishing green procurement programs. Resource persons included international experts Dr. Dan Steinbock, American green business specialist; Dr. Ning Yu, Taiwanese environmental labeling expert; Dr. Kun Mo Lee, Korean business life cycle assessment specialist; and Mr. Scot Case, American environmental marketing expert.

Local speakers include Rep. Roilo Golez, co-author of the Climate Change Act; Dr. JR Nereus Acosta, former solon and expert in environmentalist law-making; former First Lady Amelita M. Ramos, environmentalist and Pasig River rehabilitation advocate; and former Environment Secretary Elisea 'Bebet' Gozun. Participants came from various fields of expertise such as responsible officers of various sectors involved in pollution control, procurement, and corporate social responsibility; and teachers, researchers, business managers and development officers, among others.

The lead conference organizers are the non-government organization Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development (PCEPSDI), a non-government organization that implements the National Ecolabelling Programme-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP).

NELP-GCP has awarded the Green Choice Seal of Approval to 11 products found to be environmentally preferable, based on ISO 14024. The Green Choice Seal is the only third-party and multiple-criteria based seal of approval on envi ronmental claims that is being espoused by the government.

The Seal is awarded based on ecolabelling or environmental labeling, an international system of identifying products and services that reduce environmental impact.

The Programme has 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.

"The environment is related to our nation's economic development, and the use of ecological products will minimize the risk effects and disasters arising from climate change" says former Environment Secretary and PCEPSDI Chair Elisea Gozun, as she urges the government, business and civil society groups to assess the effects of various products on the environment.