GECA has recently made some changes to its Certification Scheme Rules to ensure the scheme remains as efficient and cost effective as possible, while maintaining its position as the most credible and robust ecolabel in the country.
Providing international recognition
GECA is keen to support international recognition and is pleased to announce that it now recognises certification achieved by our Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) partners such as the EU Ecolabel, Nordic Ecolabel, Blue Angel and China Environmental United Certification Centre among others. This means products certified under these schemes can use that certification to demonstrate conformance to applicable criteria in GECA standards, including site visits if they have occurred. If GECA standards have additional or more stringent criteria, then conformance with these also needs to be demonstrated to Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). If GECA does not have a relevant standard the product may be considered for certification under our International Ecolabelled Products standard.
GECA is undergoing certification under GEN’s Internationally Coordinated Ecolabelling System (GENICES) and this will assist GECA licensees in achieving certification under overseas programs.
New and revised standards
GECA revises and introduces new standards from time to time to reflect the latest environmental and social expectations. This occurs at least every seven years. Now, for the first year of a revised or new standard, it will be considered to be “in transition”. This is designed to assist with the introduction of robust environmental standards but at the same time enable modifications that may be required that only become apparent as the standard is put in to use.
During this year “in transition” GECA may allow minor exemptions or variations to criteria if it deems they were made too strict or inappropriate for a product (but will not reduce them below the previous standard). At the end of the 12 months GECA will advise of any updates that may be made to the standard as a result of insights gathered over the year. These updates will then be included and the standard finalised.
If any products were certified with exemptions, licensees will need to demonstrate to the CAB that they conform with the finalised standard within six months to avoid license suspension.
As occurs now, when a new or revised standard is released, licensees must get their products certified against the new standard within 12 months of it being issued.
Once a product has been certified against a GECA standard, a surveillance audit must be undertaken every three years for it to maintain its certification. GECA continues to require a site or factory audit for all product certifications (unless specifically stated).
And, as is the case now, if at any time a company alters the way a certified product is manufactured, it must notify the CAB and the CAB will determine whether the product still complies with the standard. If it does not, the license will be suspended until the product conforms.
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These changes ensure the GECA scheme remains the most robust and transparent multi-sector ecolabel in Australia and responds to the needs of its licensees.