In the year 2023, Malaysia stood at the 78th position among 166 nations, scoring a Sustainable Development Goal index of 69.85%. To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Malaysia is intensifying its focus on the local-level implementation of SDGs. At the forefront of the nation’s environmental efforts is the eco-labelling scheme, a groundbreaking initiative formed by the Malaysian government.
Malaysia is making significant strides in its commitment to sustainability through its innovative eco-labelling program. With its lush rainforests and diverse ecosystems under constant threat from issues such as illegal logging and habitat loss, eco-labelling has emerged as a vital mechanism to encourage businesses to embrace eco-friendly practices and products.
ECO-LABELLING, WHAT IS IT?
Many companies that are eager to embark on their sustainability journey may not fully comprehend the potential benefits of obtaining an eco-label for their products. But what exactly is an eco-labelling scheme?
Ecolabelling is a voluntary environmental performance certification and labelling that identifies products or services that are proven to be environmentally preferable within a specific category. These certified products or services have been independently verified to meet transparent environmental criteria based on life cycle considerations and scientific methodology.
Manufacturers and businesses can apply to have their products or services certified according to specific criteria documents. In Malaysia, the SIRIM Eco-label is granted by SIRIM QAS International, accredited to ISO/IEC 17065 – the General Requirement for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems by the Department of Standards Malaysia. This certification also complies with ISO 14024 requirements and principles, ensuring global acceptance and reinforcing the certification process’s reliability and credibility.
BENEFITS OF SIRIM ECO-LABELLING
The SIRIM Eco-Labelling mark serves as a powerful means to communicate a product’s environmental benefits to consumers, empowering them to make purchasing decisions with environmental considerations in mind. In a market filled with numerous product claims, the SIRIM Eco-Labelling mark acts as an effective marketing tool, enabling companies to position both their products and their brand as environmentally conscious.
An eco-labelling scheme verifies that products are environmentally preferable and compliant with sustainable standards. This competitive advantage extends to global “green markets”, where eco-labelled products often command premium prices.
Moreover, eco-labelling schemes incentivise businesses to adopt sustainable practices across their operations. This involves reevaluating and redesigning production and manufacturing methods to minimise environmental impact. It also encourages efficient resource utilisation, including energy, water, and waste reduction, while promoting the use of sustainable materials.
Additionally, eco-labelling encourages government and private sectors to engage in environmentally friendly purchasing initiatives, providing valuable insights for policymakers shaping sustainability objectives. Government organisations are setting an example by promoting eco-labelled goods, it signals their commitment to sustainability, inspiring other businesses to follow suit. Under the National Twelfth Malaysian Plan 2021 – 2025 (RMK 12), it aims to solve the present issues while also reviving and starting Malaysia’s socioeconomic growth for long-term sustainability and prosperity. Supporting green growth requires a robust and sustained green market. In 2025, Malaysia plans to increase the government green procurement of selected green products and services by 25%. With this, the demand for regionally produced green goods, services and innovations will rise which in return will encourage public sectors to engage in green procurement, thereby growing the green market. Local industries, particularly SMEs will be encourage to get involved in green industry development programmes which will include capacity building, certification, dissemination of knowledge, and business matching. In addition to this, local industries will also be urged to embrace eco-labelling in order to produce new green goods. The governments efforts to assist these businesses in obtaining their eco-labelling will be enhanced with financial as well as technical support.
CHALLENGES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
Eco-labelling faces challenges in maintaining the credibility of labels and expanding its coverage to even more sectors. As new and innovative products enter the market, certifying them can be complex as it requires the acquisition of suitable or new standards and testing facilities. In addition to this, auditors must stay abreast of constantly changing domestic and global regulations, and industry standards to ensure products comply with the latest requirements.
SIRIM QAS is offering an innovative service that meets the fast-paced industry’s demands. It is a service where clients may obtain multiple certifications with a single audit by integrating the Eco-Labelling Certification Scheme with the Product Certification Scheme and Management System Certification Scheme. These cutting-edge services not only help clients save significant time and resources but also enhance their reputation. The approach, centered around the client, aims to streamline access to local and international markets, fostering operational efficiency in their business pursuits.
POSITIVE IMPACTS OF ECO-LABELLING
The positive impacts of eco-labelling extend well beyond marketing and consumer awareness. They encompass building consumer trust, nurturing environmental education, expanding market opportunities, ensuring regulatory adherence, driving innovation, reducing environmental footprint, promoting sustainability through supply chains, encouraging collaboration, enhancing brand reputation, and fostering health and safety. These effects collectively foster a more sustainable and environmentally conscious marketplace, benefiting businesses, consumers, and policymakers while advancing the cause of environmental preservation and responsible consumption.
En. Kamarul Arieffin Rosli, the Principal Auditor of Product Certification and Inspection of SIRIM QAS International added that SIRIM QAS’ product certification goes beyond the technical aspects of evaluating products. “Knowing that our efforts contribute to a safer, sustainable, and more responsible environment is a huge motivator and a source of fulfilment for us. Assisting manufacturers to meet regulatory requirements and industry standards is very fulfilling as it supports businesses in their efforts to compete in the market and adhere to legal obligations.”
SIRIM QAS’ eco-labelling scheme has emerged as a potent tool in Malaysia’s sustainability journey. As both businesses and consumers embrace the green revolution, eco-labels symbolise a commitment to a greener and brighter future. By embracing eco-labelling, Malaysia is moving closer to a nation where sustainability is not just a goal, but a way of life.