: west to use recycled pulp may consume more…
: west to use recycled pulp may consume more resources than it saves. Or take the EU’s eco-label for T shirts. U.S. makers claim the rules permit more pollution from plants that dump wastewater into the sewer than from those that treat it on site, as most U.S. textile plants do. A problem? Even enviros admit that all-purpose stars and seals can be misleading. But a serious barrier to trade? No, responds Norman Dean of Green Seal, “it’s a consumer right-to-know issue.” U.S. trade officials are under the gun to launch a push for in- ternational eco-labeling rules this month. So far, though, the Clinton administration hasn’t figured out whether a green label is worth a bloody fight. 15 member nations. But to earn the EU’s eco-label, a flower with 12 stars for petals, copy paper must meet criteria covering factory pollution, forest management and recy- cled content. By no coinci- dence, U.S. papermakers say, few non-European paper mills qualify for the label. The eco-standard was approved on May 29, and so far it hasn’t affected a single sale. But if the EU follows through on its plan to use only eco-labeled paper, importers could be hurt. In theory, eco-labels should lead to a cleaner envi- ronment. “It’s a very pure idea,” says Phil Evans of Britain’s Consumers Associa- tion. “The problems come in the actual practice.” Paper recycling, for example, might make sense in Holland, but requiring paper made in Canada’s sparsely settled USE YOUR ECONOMIC REASONING 1. How can the use of eco- labels be a form of pro- tectionism? 2. Why might a business re- sort to eco-labels rather than appealing for tariffs or quotas? 3. GATT negotiations have been more successful in reducing tariffs and quo- tas than nontariff barriers such as eco-labels. Why do you think that has been true?
Use Your Economic Reasoning Seeing Red Over Green Why big business hates byists are egging U.S. nego eral Environment Office’s eco-labels tiators to arm for a fight over blue angel. The white Nordic …labels. By Marc Levinson swan is so popular that Not just any labels. We’re Swedish retailers insist on it. in the good old talking eco-labels, those Even India has a seal for symbols certifying that your products whose manufacture, “trade dispute” meant stuff. bedsheets and laundry deter use and disposal are deemed You know: clothes, cars, com gent are ecologically benign. least harmful to the environ- puter chips, you buy more Eco-labels aren’t big in ment. But where environmen- of ours or we’ll put the screws America, where only a hand talists tout progress, business to yours. Then came the In ful of items bear the impri sees a new form of protection- formation Age, with ethereal matur of Green Seal, Inc., or ism. Says Scott Stewart of conflicts over patents and the cross and globe of its Procter & Gamble, “Eco-seals bootleg CDs. If you’re per competitor, Scientific Certifi- potentially create barriers plexed by trade wars over cation Systems. Abroad, to trade.” music royalties, get a grip, through, green consumerism Exhibit A: copy paper. because the battles only get is hot. Almost everyone in Any paper can be sold in stranger. Now business lob- Germany recognizes the Fed the European Union’s SOURCE: From Newsweek, June 17, 1996, p. 56, © 1996, Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.
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