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A Global Perspective On Ecolabelling

March 14, 2002

Media Release For Immediate Release

A visiting group of experts will be giving an international perspective on global ecolabelling trends during their New Zealand visit next week.

John Polak, Chair of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), will address a group of busi-ness, government and environmental leaders at an Auckland reception on Monday March 18.

His keynote address will cover global evolution of ecolabelling, public attitudes and the latest developments in green procurement. After the reception, there will be an opportunity to meet with and discuss ecolabelling issues with the Global Ecolabelling Network's Board of Directors.

Founded in 1994, the Global Ecolabelling Network is a not-for-profit association of third party, environmental performance labelling organisations. It was founded to improve, promote and develop the "ecolabelling" of products and services. GEN has more than 24 national and multinational members. The eight-member Board of Directors, which meets annually to share information, has representatives from Taiwan, Denmark, Canada, Japan, Germany and New Zealand.

"Ecolabelling" is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world. In contrast to "green" symbols or claim statements made by manufacturers, an impartial third party awards an ecolabel.

Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust is the certifying authority for New Zealand's national environmental labelling programme - the Environmental Choice Label. The outcome of a New Zealand government initiative, the programme has been created to help consumers find products that ease the burden on the environment. It has been established to improve the quality of the environment by minimising the adverse environmental impacts generated by the production, distribution, use and disposal of products.

The Minister for the Environment owns the Environmental Choice Label. Licensees awarded use of the Label have had their products independently checked and verified; to ensure they comply with published environmental specifications.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs, who will speak at the reception, said the forum would stimulate discussion on global ecolabelling and green purchasing trends. "One of my objectives with the New Zealand Waste Strategy, released earlier this month, is to get New Zealanders to think about how their everyday actions impact on the environment," Marian Hobbs said. "Buying a product with a clear, consistent ecolabel that they can trust is an easy way for people to start to do their bit for the environment. "The Environmental Choice label is the perfect tool for businesses who want to market their products as better for the environment. I encourage businesses to get on board now."

Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust believes its ecolabelling programme provides enormous marketing benefits for participating businesses and in turn for their end users. Michael Pritchard, Chair of Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust, welcomed the Minister's stance on ecolabelling: "It's heartening to see the government is supporting Environmental Choice's ecolabelling programme in its national waste strategy, and is looking to the international experience in ecolabelling and green purchasing practices. "Environmental Choice is keen to promote the fact that all New Zealanders can consider green purchasing when they shop for goods and services.

"Our Environmental Choice licensees provide an excellent range of green purchasing opportunities. Our latest licensee is the Paper Converting Company, which is launching a range of toilet tissue made from 100% recycled paper. This type of product has got to be a smart way forward, as it's conserving our natural resources and reusing waste. It will be widely available through the usual supermarket distribution chains," Michael Pritchard says.

For further information on ecolabelling and green purchasing, contact: Melissa Arseneault, Programme Manager, Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust Tel (09) 845 3330 or email info@enviro-choice.org.nz

For background information and pics, contact: Angela Penteado, Stratcomm Consulting Ltd. Tel. (09) 379 3000 Mobile (021) 46 00 47/Email: angela@stratcommconsulting.co.nz

MEDIA BACKGROUNDER:

About Ecolabelling

"Ecolabelling" is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world.

About the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) is a non-profit association of ecolabelling organisations from around the world. These ecolabelling organisations set criteria for products and services, certifying ones with lower environmental impacts than comparable products. A key role of the network and its licensee companies is to inform consumers of these impacts. The three strategic objectives for the Global Ecolabelling Network have been identified as: · Capacity Building and Membership · Expansion Enhanced Co-operation and Internal Communications · International Promotion and Awareness Raising Please go to: www.gen.gr.jp for more information on the Global Ecolabelling Network.

About the Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust

Environmental Choice is a voluntary, multiple-criteria based environmental labelling programme. Initiated and endorsed by the New Zealand Government, Environmental Choice recognises the genuine moves made by manufactures to reduce the environmental impacts of their products. Suppliers of products (manufacturers, distributors, and retailers) may apply for a licence to use the Environmental Choice Label on products, which meet specific published criteria.

The Environmental Choice New Zealand Trust manages the programme. As a member of the Global Ecolabelling Network, the Environmental Choice programme operates to international standards and principles.

For more information on Environmental Choice please go to www.enviro-choice.org.nz

About Environmental Choice and its licensees:

The reception will include representatives from Environmental Choice's current licensees - Feltex Carpets NZ, Gracefield Paper NZ Ltd, Interworld Plastics, Paper Converting Company, Resene Paints Ltd, Vertex Pacific Ltd and The Warehouse.

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