Brussels, Belgium – Proposals to legislate incentives for green consumerism were introduced this week on international and local fronts with measures before the European Commission and New Jersey lawmakers.
In Belgium, the European Commission was considering several proposals on July 16 related to purchases and consumerism that would support eco-friendly products, innovation and new technology.
Under the proposals, local authorities within the European Union would have to make half their purchases more eco-friendly by 2010, and the number of product types subject to eco-labelling would increase from the current 26 to as many as 50 by 2015.
"In terms of our impact on the planet, we are living far beyond our means," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "The time has come for us to change the type of products we buy and transform our methods of production."
Also under the proposals, the EU directive on eco-design would expand to cover products indirectly affecting energy consumption such as taps, shower-heads and windows, rather than just appliances that consume electricity.
The proposals come as the European Union moves to cut energy consumption amid soaring fuel and power prices, in addition to slashing carbon dioxide emissions by one fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
In New Jersey, a "Buy Green, Save Green" bill was introduced in both houses of the state Legislature. The proposal would eliminate the state's 7 percent sales tax on purchases of Energy Star-labeled residential lighting and appliances.
State Senator Bill Baroni (R-Mercer/Middlesex) announced on July 15 that he introduced the legislation in the New Jersey senate. Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly.
"Eliminating the sales tax will make Energy Star labeled appliances such as ceiling fans, dishwashers, refrigerators, and room air conditioners more affordable to the residential consumer and promote energy efficiency, " said Baroni.
In 1992, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced "Energy Star" label to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse emissions. In 1996, the EPA partnered with the federal Department of Energy for particular product categories. Energy Star says it has delivered energy and cost savings of about $16 billion as well as eliminating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million cars.