Unify Eco-Labeling to Accelerate Eco-Consumerism

by Sharan Raj

Over the past decade, Malaysia has introduced multiple types of environmental certification and labeling in a bid to shift consumption patterns to favour eco-friendly products. Eco-labeling refers to a type of demand side management (DSM) through which the labels induce a shift in consumption patterns.

Yet, eco-consumerism is far from being brought into the mainstream. Fragmented labeling systems have confused consumers and disincentivised manufacturers from adopting the labels. Hence, eco-consumerism market had shrunk due lack of consumer-friendly labeling.

To date, there are at least 7 Eco-labeling systems under different agencies, with more being mooted, such as sustainable packaging, organic farming, RE100 Certification and so on. The MyHijau Mark by GreenTech attempted to unify the multiple labels. However, GreenTech does not possess statutory recognition like SIRIM.

LABEL ISSUERSPURPOSE
SIRIM Eco-Labeling SchemeSIRIMEnvironmental Product
SIRIM Product Carbon Footprint CertificationSIRIMCarbon Footprint
Water Efficiency Product Labelling SchemeSuruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air NegaraWater Efficiency
Malaysian Palm Oil Certification SchemeMalaysian Palm Oil BoardSustainable Palm Oil
Malaysia Timber Certification SchemeMalaysian Timber Certification CouncilSustainable Forestry
MyHijau MarkGreenTech MalaysiaGreen Labelling
Energy Efficiency Rating SchemeSuruhanjaya TenagaEnergy Efficiency

Therefore, manufacturers are not incentivized to produce eco-friendly products as they yield no substantial economic benefits.  Moreover, attaining multiple eco-labels is a costly and time-consuming process. Manufacturers would have to coordinate with multiple entities to acquire the labeling. Some appliances such as washing machines require energy efficiency, water efficiency and carbon footprint certification.

The unification of all the eco-labels is necessary and SIRIM should be given the mandate. The unified eco label under SIRIM’s label should replace all other eco-friendly labels. SIRIM is the best entity as manufacturers are already engaging with them and consumers are aware of the SIRIM logo. Single eco-labelling would simplify public awareness campaign cost and promote Malaysian eco-friendly consumerism.

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