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Green Label Scheme
Green Label Scheme > Hong Kong Green Label Scheme > About Green Label Scheme > Introduction

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Introduction Advisory Committee Gen Member  


Increasing global environmental awareness and concern has created a demand for and the supply of “green” (i.e. preferable from an environmental attributes and/or performance perspective) products – i.e. goods and services. With many "green" product claims in the market, consumers are sometimes confused by their claims and may have doubts about their validity. To help consumers, it is essential to establish an authoritative, independent and publicly acceptable green (eco-) label scheme that identifies products that are environmentally preferable to similar products with the same functions in the market.

Ecolabelling schemes, including International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Type I environmental labeling schemes as well as other types, serve the aforementioned purpose as well as encourage the purchase of "greener" products / services with improved recyclability, reduced packaging, greater durability, and with higher recycled content if possible. Such schemes also reward leadership and initiative in promoting environmental consumerism.

In the case of ISO Type I schemes, product assessments are based on life cycle considerations from raw materials, manufacturing process, distribution and consumer use, to final disposal.

Globalization of Green Label
Ecolabelling schemes have been widely used worldwide since the late 1970's. To date, there are over 70 different ISO Type I ecolabelling schemes implemented worldwide. Most of them are run on a voluntary basis. Germany's "Blue Angel" eco-label, the first national scheme in the world, was introduced in 1977.

In Asia, countries such as China, Japan, Korea, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Chinese Taipei and Singapore have already established their own ecolabelling schemes. The Green Council (GC) is committed to start the Hong Kong Green Label Scheme (HKGLS) in Hong Kong.

What is Hong Kong Green Label Scheme?
The Hong Kong Green Label Scheme (HKGLS) is an independent, non-profit-making and voluntary scheme for the certification of environmentally preferable products launched in December 2000 by Green Council (GC). The scheme sets environmental standards and awards its "Green Label" to products that are qualified regarding their environment attributes and/or performance. As with all ecolabelling schemes, the aim is to encourage manufacturers to supply products with good environmental performance and provide a convenient means for consumers to recognise products that are more environmentally responsible, thus promoting a more sustainable pattern of consumption.

In establishing the standards, HKGLS draws from relevant international standards and is benchmarked with well-developed ecolabels to ensure credibility of the standards. An Advisory Committee, composed of members from the academia, industrial and commercial associations and environmental groups, oversees the policy and operation of the HKGLS.

As with the majority of ecolabelling programs, HKGLS is an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 14024(1) Type 1 label, which involves a third-party certification requiring considerations of life cycle impacts. Some of the key criteria contained in these standards also require compliance with applicable legislation.

(1)ISO 14024 Environmental Labels and Declarations - Type I Environmental Labelling - Principles and Procedures.

Benefits of Green Label for Business

For consumers, the benefits of a credible and independent green label/ecolabel is that it can easily identify and distinguish products which have been developed and produced with the intent of being less negatively environmentally impacting, whilst manufacturers, distributors, and marketers acquire the financial benefits of dealing in and producing such environmentally preferable products, as indicated below:

(a) Effective Marketing Tool: A green label demonstrates a product's superior environmental performance and its supplier’s commitment to protect the environment. This improves corporate image, brand recognition and reputation for high product quality;

(b) A Sensible Cost Savings Move: Manufacturers' commitment to improve environmental performance in manufacturing processes generally leads to significant cost savings associated with effective resource use, waste minimization and recycling, and reduced business liability;

Besides financial benefits, a green label demonstrates suppliers' long-term commitment to improve environmental performance. In a broader sense, it is a positive move towards sustainable development.

Objectives of HKGLS
(a) To encourage consumers to purchase commodities with significantly reduced adverse environmental impact;

(b) To provide manufacturers and importers with incentives to reduce adverse environmental impacts of their products;

(c) To provide a clear and independent guide for consumers considering environmental factors when making purchases; and

(d) To ultimately improve the quality of the environment and encourage sustainable management of resources.

Management and Administration of HKGLS
The HKGLS is managed and implemented by GC:

In order to oversee the establishment and operation of the HKGLS as well as attract wider participation by the local community, an Advisory Committee comprising of members from GC, academics, industry, environment organisations and commercial sectors has been established. The Committee mainly advises on:

(a) Operational guidelines, product categories, and respective product environmental criteria;

(b) The HKGLS application and assessment mechanisms;

(c) Approval or disapproval of HKGLS applications; and

(d) Issues in connection with licensing, product certification, and/or revoking the use of the HKGLS label.

Since the industry's participation in the HKGLS is conducive to the success of its implementation, relevant industrial associations in Hong Kong have been invited to support the Scheme through:

(a) Providing opinions and suggestions on various aspects of HKGLS such as the establishment of product categories and the associated criteria, application procedures and assessment mechanism from the industry's perspective; and

(b) Promoting the HKGLS to local industry members.The functional relationship among the various organizations in the HKGLS is shown in the following schematic diagram:

The functional relationship among the various organizations in the HKGLS is shown in the following schematic diagram:

Figure 1. Schematic Diagram of HKGLS Operation

Procedure to Select Product Categories
Identification and selection of an appropriate product category is the first and an important step in the HKGLS development. When selecting a product category, the following key considerations have been taken into account:

(a) The concerned product category does pose a potential threat to environmental quality, and cannot be totally replaced by other environmentally benign alternatives;

(b) Environmental criteria have already been established for the concerned product category in other green labeling/ecolabelling schemes;

(c) The concerned product category is widely used in Hong Kong; and

(d) The concerned product category poses no health or safety threat to human beings.

Whether a product is environmentally preferable or not is determined by comparing its associated environmental impacts with its counterparts in the same product category. A comprehensive product information database is thus essential for product category selection. Such information has been used in the identification and selection of the product categories for the HKGLS.

Procedure to Develop Product Environmental Criteria

In general, the mechanism for developing product environmental criteria for individual product categories is described as follows:

(a) Collection of Information
The following key information is collected to form the basis for establishing product environmental criteria:

(i) Relevant information of other green labelling schemes;
(ii) Market and technological data of the products;
(iii) Views/suggestions from interested parties such as the supporting organizations, trade associations, manufacturers, suppliers and environmental experts.

(b) Criteria Development
With the above information, the product environmental criteria are established by:

(i) Benchmarking with relevant criteria used in other established green labelling schemes, with focus on schemes that have adopted life cycle analysis (LCA) in their criteria development;

(ii) Using LCA approach to ensure applicability and that the environmental criteria used are related to various life cycle stages of the product including raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distribution, product use and disposal will be covered;

(iii) Reference to local applicable standards e.g. the Hong Kong SAR Government's energy efficiency label scheme.

(c) Criteria Review and Endorsement
The HKGLS is the final authority in deciding on the environmental criteria to be applied in the scheme.

Figure 2 presents the schematic procedures for selection of product categories and development of the associated criteria.

Figure 2. Procedure of Product Category Selection and Criteria Development

Proposal of A New Green Label Product Category

Interested parties may contact us for the Addition of a New Product to be included in a green label product category. GC will review the need and appropriateness before determining whether the new product will be added to the Hong Kong Green Label Scheme.

  Should you need any further information about the Scheme, please contact us at:
Green Council
Tel. (852) 2810 1122
Fax (852) 2810 1998

HKGLS Website: