Chinese Government to Start "Buying Green"

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China’s Ministry of Finance and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) have announced that starting in 2007, the nation’s central and provincial governments will prioritize their purchasing of environmentally friendly products and services. The government’s new “green procurement” policy will be implemented at all levels of jurisdiction starting in 2008.

The two agencies released a new “green purchasing list” that specifies a range of recommended products carrying the China Environmental Label, China’s only national eco-label for environmentally friendly goods and services. Government purchasers will be required to buy products from the list when these alternatives are available; otherwise financial authorities may refuse to pay for the items. “By purchasing environmentally friendly products and services, the government could become the real driving force for industry to develop green technology,” explained an official with SEPA.

China Environmental Labeling Logo Xiaoqing Wu, vice minister of SEPA, noted that because the Chinese government spends substantial amounts on purchasing each year, green procurement will play a leading role in raising public awareness of environmental protection, promoting green consumption, and pushing industries toward cleaner production and technological innovation. According to the Ministry of Finance, in 2005 total government procurement topped 292.7 billion yuan (US$37.2 billion), an increase of 37 percent from 2004 and representing 1.6 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP). This year, the total budget for government procurement is estimated to exceed 300 billion yuan (US$38.3 billion). Wu believes the new procurement rules will substantially boost the presence of green products in the market, reports Xinhua News.

The current “green purchasing list” includes 859 products in 14 categories, ranging from vehicles, photocopiers, printers, and televisions to flooring, paint, and other construction materials. SEPA has promised to continually update the list by adding more qualified products and removing any that lag behind the evolving standards. All of the listed products must be certified by SEPA’s Environmental Certification Center to receive the China Environmental Label, which identifies that a product will pose minimal or no harm to the environment and human health during its life cycle, from the design, production, packaging, transportation, and use stages to the item’s ultimate recycling, reuse, or disposal.

SEPA launched the China Environmental Label in 1993. It now includes 56 categories of products and services and is used by some 1,300 enterprises on 21,000 products, including construction materials, textiles, vehicles, cosmetics, electronics, and packaging.