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Product Carbon Labeling Takes Shape in South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea, July 28, 2008 (ENS) – The South Korean government has decided that selected products will carry labels in the marketplace to show the size of their carbon footprints. During the testing phase, just 10 products will get carbon labels, but if the program is successful, it will be used more widely.

The labels will show the amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emitted during the products’ lifecycle – production, distribution, use and disposal of the goods, the Environment Ministry said Sunday.

Carbon dioxide is the most abundant heat-trapping greenhouse gas that is responsible for global warming.


LG Electronics washing machines have been
selected for carbon labeling. (Photo
credit unknown)

The ministry said testing will begin next month on the 10 products selected. They include a water purifier made by Woongjin, washing machines made by LG Electronics, CJ’s instant pre-cooked microwavable rice, a heater from Kyungdong, and LCD glass made by Samsung Corning Precision Glass.

Product validation inspections will be conducted next month, in order to grant final permission, the ministry said. The system will be officially introduced by January 2009.

The carbon labeling system has been implemented in places such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Canada to enable businesses to demonstrate to consumers their commitment to managing and reducing carbon emissions.

Though mostly in use in the United Kingdom, a growing number of European retailers are exploring carbon labeling for products, and in the United States the labels are gaining ground.

Timberland was the first in the United States to place the tags on store shelves, and major corporations like Wal-Mart are conducting inventories of their products’ carbon emissions and considering labeling merchandise.

If the idea gains popularity in Korea, carbon labels will allow shoppers to choose the products with the smallest carbon footprints and permit them to compare locally produced with imported goods, organic products with traditionally farmed foods.


CJ precooked microwaveable rice will
receive a carbon label. (Photo
credit unknown)

Meanwhile, the South Korean Environment Ministry launched its Green Start campaign last Friday, an environmental action designed to promote the government’s initiative entitled “Low Carbon, Green Korea” that aims to reduce greenhouse gases in everyday life.

The ministry plans to organize “Green Start Network” in August in cooperation with the central government, local government entities, industries, religious groups and civic groups in order to promote the government’s “Green Start” carbon reduction campaign.

The group will establish and begin implementing a detailed plan of action by September, the ministry said.

Households, merchants and other non-industrial sectors account for 45 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in South Korea. Therefore, living a low-carbon lifestyle is considered a key to countering climate change.

The ministry plans to set up related programs to provide carbon reduction education at schools and incentives to environment-friendly firms.

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