As Korean consumers are becoming aware of the seriousness of environmental degradation, the number of Korean consumers has increased a growing number of Korean consumers are beginning to consider eco-friendliness as an important factor in purchasing products, alongside prices, quality, and designs. The government of Korea thus introduced an Environmental labelling for consumers to identify and select eco-friendly products and encourage businesses to develop and produce such products by visualizing information on their eco-friendliness.
Korea became a member state of Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) in 1997. The national legislature in Korea also enacted the Act on Promotion of Purchase of Green Products in 2005, requiring public organizations and agencies to purchase mandatory quotas of eco-friendly products. The Korean Eco-label Certification System (ECS) is increasingly recognized as an advanced system of eco-labelling worldwide, through the government of Korea's closer cooperation with eco-labelling agencies abroad and effort to better align its ECS with international standards. In 2011, the Korean ECS received the Global Ecolabelling Network Internationally Coordinated Ecolabelling System (GENICES) Certificate, proving its global stature and quality to the world.
The Ministry of Environment provides different standards and requirements of eco-labelling which applies to different categories of products. There are 161 categories of products, including paper, photocopy machines, printers, paints, wallpapers, and soap bars, eligible to apply for Eco labels. Consumers can shop for these products themselves at the 350 designated “Green Stores” nationwide. There are also online stores which displays Eco-label products.
To establish eco-friendly purchases as part of the norms on both the public- and private-sector markets, it is important to increase the public awareness of the ECS through campaigns and education. What's also important is to improve the efficiency of certification procedure, build up support for certified businesses and strengthen international cooperation for a better and stronger ECS.
In order to activate the system, there are a few ways to foster and strengthen the ECS, such as simplifying the certification procedure and increasing support for certified businesses. Also, the Eco-labeling system can be complemented by establishing premium Eco-labels, integrating Ecolabel designs, and controlling environmental declarations and advertising.
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