The Bureau of Indian Standards issues a certification mark for ecologically safe products which conform to the standards given by the BIS. The scheme was launched in 1991 through Gazette Notification No. 71 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It helps in recognizing eco-friendly products present in the market. The mark includes as much as 16 categories like food, electronic goods, medicines, chemicals, etc. This scheme is known as ‘ECOMARK’ and it is a nationwide scheme which gives recognition for certain household products that satisfy the specific environmental norms along with the quality of products. It is a voluntary nationwide scheme for the betterment of the environment as common citizens and concerned industrial sectors actively participate in it. The Earthen Pot is selected as a logo for the Ecomark scheme in India since the pot uses a renewable resource like earth, it is because it does not produce any dangerous waste and it consumes little energy in making. Its solid and graceful form represents both strength and fragility, which also characterizes the eco-system. As a symbol, it puts across its environmental message. Its image has the ability to reach people and can help to promote a greater awareness of the need to be kind to the environment. The logo for the Ecomark Scheme signifies that the product which carries it does the least damage to the environment
Objective behind introducing this scheme
The objective of this scheme is manifold but the main rationale behind it is to make the consumers think about the improvement of the environment by using or buying environment-friendly products. For instance, to reduce the adverse environmental impact, the manufacturers and importers are provided with certain incentive. The companies are also rewarded for their genuine initiatives which reduce the product’s adverse impact on the Environment. Another objective is to motivate the consumers to be more responsible towards the environment in their daily lives which happens when the consumers take the environmental factors into consideration in their decisions. This in turns encourages the citizens to be more environment-friendly by purchasing less harmful environmental products. The Ultimate objective is to sustainably manage the resources to improve the quality of the environment
To identify the categories of product and to develop criteria, the Ministry of Environment and Forests3 has established two committees which are, Steering Committee and Technical Committee. The BIS allows the use of the label after evaluating and certifying the products and making a contract with the manufacturer, on payment of a fee. The tenure of the committee is for three years or until the next committee is reconstituted. The CPCB5 is a registered member of the Global Ecolabelling Network.
Steering Committee determines the categories of product which are to be covered under this scheme and they also devise the strategies for promotion, implementation and the development of the scheme over the years. Steering Committee Selects the logo for the “ECOMARK”. It organizes activities which create mass awareness for promotion and acceptance of the scheme. It also determines which product categories are to be included in the scheme. If in case the committee feels that a requirement of some experts is required, it can invite special invitees. The interests of industry, consumer groups or other are represented by five non-officials which are to be appointed by the Central Government.
Technical Committee is constituted to identify and classify the individual products and to determine the basis for giving the ECOMARK, the Central Government of India constitute the Technical Committee. The Technical Committee functions in the CPCB, Delhi. The Technical Committee also looks upon the environmental criteria followed in other countries. They also review the technologies which are available to determine the criteria.
The product for ECOMARK is evaluated by the Bureau of Indian Standards which certify the product for award; it has the power to review, suspend or cancel a license; It can analyze any material which might be relevant to check if any product which has been given the ECOMARK comply to the contracts or not, whether the license of ECOMARK has been taken or not.
a. Certification and Licensing: In this scheme, the manufacturers have to register for the products which come under the notified categories in terms of compliance with the environmental norms which are then tested and certified. Bureau of Indian Standards carries out this process. ECOMARK is given for a specified time period after the certification and after that, the product is reevaluated again.
b. Criteria for Ecomark: The criteria for Ecomark is based on the initiation to termination approach. The elementary criteria consider the broad environmental aspects but are particular at the product level. The basic criteria cover broad environmental levels and aspects but are specific at the product level. The prime environmental concerns are: That, the production or usage of products carry less potential for pollution compared to another; That, the products are recyclable and reusable than its counterparts; That the products contribute significantly to save non-renewable resources.
c. General Requirements: The product should comply with the pollution control acts and it should raise environmental awareness among consumers.
d. Specific Requirements: The product-specific requirements are to take into consideration the process of production including the source of raw materials etc.
e. The Earthen Pot is selected as a logo for the Ecomark scheme in India since the pot uses a renewable resource like earth, it is because it does not produce any dangerous waste and it consumes little energy in making. Its solid and graceful form represents both strength and fragility, which also characterizes the eco-system. As a symbol, it puts across its environmental message. Its image has the ability to reach people and can help to promote a greater awareness of the need to be kind to the environment. The logo for the Ecomark Scheme signifies that the product which carries it does the least damage to the environment.
f. Incentives: The incentives are given to the Ecomark awarded industries include 50% fee concession under Water and Air act. This notification was issued by the Government of MP.
Procedure for Ecomark License
A license of Ecomark is obtained by using the following procedure; A manufacturer eager to get an Ecomark license has to apply in BIS on an application form with Rs.500 fee. The form can be obtained by BIS directly or any of its branch offices. If the commodity is covered by a specific norm, separate application should be made. If the environmental norms have several parts in it then we have to make separate applications for a different part. Then, BIS inspect the applicant factory where they check for the testing facilities and the regulation of quality control of the product, which is being practiced during the manufacturing. They take Samples and examine them in an independent laboratory to check whether they satisfy the prescribed standards or not. The applicant has to pay for the examination of the samples and the product’s testing. BIS prepares the outline of testing and examination which mentions the level of control the applicant is needed to manage for getting the license in compliance with the standards. The product’s rate of marking fee is conveyed to the applicant. Ecomark is only granted when an applicant has full facilities to test his products and the samples should comply to the Indian Standards, and after BIS Formally accept the scheme of examination’s of applicant product and when the applicant receives the marking fee rate.
When the license is granted to the manufacturer, he is allowed to apply for the Ecomark on the product that complies to relevant Indian Standard when checked as per the followed scheme of testing of the license. The Bureau periodically performs the surprise inspection to look at whether the scheme of testing or inspection is being enforced properly. Samples are collected by the inspecting officers of the Bureau during an inspection from the store for examining in BIS and other laboratories. Further, the office of BIS organizes to buy certified samples of the products directly from the market or from genuine consumers for examining purposes. Initially, the license is granted for a period of one year and it is renewed subsequently for the exact period. provided the manufacturer who has the license needs to apply for the renewal of license one month before expiration period of the license. The BIS might not resume the license if it thinks that the scheme has not been followed with or may postpone the renewal until the time the applicant is able to confirm the scheme properly.
Current Scenrio: Indian Ecomark Scheme
The Ecomark program is very limited in scope within India, as manufacturers are reluctant to apply for the scheme. There are certain factors which might have led to this hesitation seen as possible causes for this hesitation. As the Manufacturers has to pay for the various testing, licensing, application as well as license renewal fee, he doesn’t feel motivated to opt for the scheme. Secondly, products have to conform to the quality standards with BIS, only after that,, the manufacturers can apply for the Ecomark. Industry feels that the Ecomark program will not aid the environmental improvement if the standard norms concentrate on single issues and they do not take the local situation into consideration. The industry believes that due to the lack of awareness of environmentally friendly products among consumer, the program might convey the wrong message by signaling to the consumers that non-eco mark products are not environmentally friendly. Most of the Indian exporters believe that much Ecomark product apart from the textiles and some food exporter’s include exporter nations products major export items for which an Ecomark is of some value. Instead of Ecomark, they have adopted the ecolabeling norms of their importing countries in order to function in ttheirmarket. The two of India’s largest exports, i.e, textile and leather sectors have complied to ecolabeling norms of EU nnations such as Germany and Denmark. Through, good bilateral ties between the countries such compliance have been possible. Additionally, the Government of India is developing good standard norms for the leather and leather products categories. In relation to the trade, the Indian Ecomark scheme does agree to the growing demand of eco-labeling program across the world.
The lack of information and failed regulation has resulted in industries making bogus claims about the benefits of their items. These misleading claims make the consumers suspicious of the product. Eco-labeling programs are optional, a market-based scheme that has been applied in some countries, with varying degrees of success. The Government of India in 1991 has established the Ecomark scheme to assist the consumers to identify products that have a reduced environmental degradation Even after 28 years, only substantial numbers of consumers are aware of the existence of any such scheme, sadly even today, no products have the Ecomark label on it.
In our country, it’s very difficult to reach the consumers in because of our vast population which is largely rural, marginalized and neglected by our mainstream media Less NEWS reach to their television sets, so most of them remain unaware of the advancement of these schemes and as well as the product. As they are illiterate, ignorant and poor they use products that are very hazardous and are of very low quality. They just have to fulfill their needs without thinking about the plight of our environments. Further, the industries nature to develop, manage and promote environmentally friendly items are linked to both internal firm feature and external factors.
Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA