October 06, 2006, The Financial Express

New Delhi, India

Even 15 years after it became operational, the Indian Ecomark Scheme has not gained the attention of the consumer and the industry.

The National Environment Policy Statement of India, 2006 had recognised the role of ecolabels on products in promoting environmental conservation.

According to a study conducted by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS)

International, an NGO, just 12 manufacturers of products like paper, pulp, leather and wood particleboard have till now applied for the Ecomark licence.

Interestingly, the licensees have hardly bothered to use the Ecomark symbol ‘matka’ on their package as it was not found to be beneficial for them, CUTS said.

Another reason was the lack of a national communication strategy. Also there were no incentives of greater demand for products with ecolabels.

Manufacturers hardly bothered to apply for an Ecomark licence since a greater investment is needed to reach the high stringency standards of ecolabels.

Pradeep S Mehta, secretary general, CUTS International has pinned the blame on the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for failing to effectively implement the Ecomark scheme.

Mehta has advocated setting up an independent Ecolabelling Board to promote the Ecomark scheme with transparency. The BIS could be asked to provide experienced technical staff to such a board, he said.

According to the CUTS International study, there is lack of awareness of the Ecomark Scheme among the Indian industry, especially among the small and medium enterprises.

Even consumer awareness about the scheme was found to be poor.

The exclusion of the ministry of finance from the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on environment and forest for the scheme, was most inappropriate, Mehta said.

Incentives or rewards to manufacturers to reduce adverse environmental impact of products could be given to promote the scheme, he added.

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