EPA Encourages Hotels and Travel Agencies to Apply for Green Mark

The EPA is taking steps to extend its environmental labeling system to the service industry. In addition to the amendments of the Green Mark specification standards announced for the “Hotel Industry” in August 2012, the EPA newly announced the environmental labeling standards for the travel service industry, restaurant industry, cleaning services industry, car rental industry, and car washing industry in May 2013.

The focus of eco-labeling for the service industry can be divided into two areas: internal management processes and service operations. In either area, there are certain practices to be adhered to, such as non-violation of the environmental laws, the development of environmental management programs or action plans in keeping with national environmental protection policies, environmental training and education for staff, implementation of green procurement, installation of energy-saving office space and waste management measures, etc. In addition, different rules and regulations should be devised in accordance with the special characteristics of each service industry. For example: hotels should not provide single-use toiletry products to their guests and should also encourage them not to request changes of linen and towels for a second night’s stay; travel agents should plan low-carbon tours and persuade customers to bring their own toiletries; restaurants should not offer single-use tableware to customers, and a minimum percentage of their food ingredients should be obtained locally; cleaning products used by the cleaning services industry and the car washing industry should meet low-pollution specifications of environmental laws; car rental enterprises should provide energy-saving and low pollution vehicles and inform drivers of eco-driving behavior norms; the car washing industry must be frugal on its use of water, etc.   

The eco-labeling for the above-mentioned six service industries can be divided into: gold, silver, and bronze, with bronze being the lowest threshold and relatively easy for enterprises to achieve. It was designed in this way so that enterprises will be encouraged to apply for eco-labeling, and, once they pass the bronze level, they will be enticed to strive towards obtaining the silver or the gold level service eco-labeling.

Prepared by Environmental Policy Monthly, July 2013