The Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation (the "Ministry") has published Environmental Labelling Regulation (the "Regulation") in the Official Gazette numbered 30570 and dated 19 October 2018.
The Regulation aims to promote the use of products and services with reduced environmental impact as well as increase the share of such domestic products in foreign markets where such labelling mechanisms are already in place. The system, which is based on voluntary participation, presents companies a new tool to stand out in the competitive landscape in various sectors.
It is Turkey's aim to implement the EU-compliant standards for environmental labelling within the Turkish industry as part of the overall EU integration process. In line with this goal, the majority of the requirements and criteria set out in the Regulation are taken from the EU Regulation on the EU Ecolabel1.
The Regulation is the first legislation relating to the implementation of environmental labelling in Turkey, but the concept is certainly not new.
In June 2017, the Ministry has implemented a project for "The Establishment of the National Environmental Label System in Turkey". The project was concluded in January 2018 with a competition for a national environmental label.
So far, 15 different products produced by 7 different companies relating to textiles, paper and ceramics sectors were granted the use of national environmental label.
What is environmental labelling?
Environmental labelling is a method of determining the lifecycle impact of goods and services on the environment and helping consumers make environmentally conscious choices by identifying the products that are less harmful on the environment with a distinctive label.
While the system is voluntary, it can also be hoped to promote a free market adjustment to the consumption of un-rated goods as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious.
Criteria for eligibility
The Regulation provides that the criteria for determining the eligibility of the products and services to use the environmental label will be set out by the Environmental Label Commission. Article 8 of the Regulation lists the requirements which should be taken into account by the commission while setting these criteria, some important ones being:
- reduction of energy consumption and promotion of renewable energy;
- amount of pollution and hazardous material generated;
- where technically feasible, the use of safe materials in place of materials that are hazardous to human health and environment;
- reduction of environmental impact by prolonging life cycle and reusability; and
- compatibility with the official criteria of other recognised national and international environmental labels.
A further notable requirements which should be taken into account is a cost benefit analysis between the intended environmental impact reduction and associated financial and administrative burden.
Manufacturers, exporters, importers, service providers, wholesalers and retailers and other entities approved by the Ministry that have an interest in obtaining an environmental label may apply to the Ministry. The Ministry will evaluate the application within 30 days. The applications that are approved in the first evaluation stage will be subject to a review by the Technical Examination Commission (the "Commission") within 90 days following the application date. If the Commission deems that the applicant fulfils applicable criteria the Ministry will grant the applicant the right to use the environmental label.
Article 12 of the Regulation lists the products which are not allowed to receive an environmental label:
- Products containing substances that are listed as toxic, hazardous to the environment, carcinogenic or mutagenic under the Regulation on the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures2;
- Products that have the qualities set out under Article 47 of the Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Permission and Limitation of Chemicals3;
- Products that are defined under the Medical Device Regulations4 and Regulation on Veterinary Medicinal Products5; and
- Food products and animal feeds.
Use of environmental labels
Article 13 of the Regulation envisages that the applicant whose application is approved will sign an agreement with the Ministry. The agreement will set out the detailed terms for the use of the environmental label. The period of usage will be 4 years following the signing of the agreement. Upon the request of the environmental label user and following a re-evaluation procedure, this period may be renewed. The environmental label user must pay an annual usage fee which will be determined by the Ministry. Taking into account the EU example, this fee could be expected to vary according to the type of product and the size of the business.
In recent years, there has been a significant changes in the consumer landscape, both globally and in Turkey towards a more environmentally conscious approach. It can be expected that the Ministry will need some time to determine applicable criteria and usage fees and the labelling system is rolled out in full. In any event, the framework set out by the Regulation demonstrates an aim to support this global trend in consumer choices, in the overall positive mission to reduce the environmental cost of the consumption oriented landscape of the modern world.
Regulation (EC) No 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the EU Ecolabel
2 Published in the Official Gazette dated 11 December 2013 and numbered 28848
3 Published in the Official Gazette dated 23 June 2017 and numbered 30105
4 Published in the Official Gazette dated 07 June 2011 and numbered 27957
5 Published in the Official Gazette dated 24 December 2011 and numbered 28152
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