Around the world … COPOLCO member news
IRAM sustains ongoing consumer participation activities
As part of its ongoing strategy to promote consumer participation in its activities, and with support from the developing countries training programme of ISO (ISO/DEVT), IRAM held a workshop in November 2010 for 24 participants from consumer organizations and agencies, standards committees and laboratories.
The workshop used role play to demonstrate and re-enact discussions in technical committees and the search for consensus. The participants took real cases to practice incorporating the consumer perspective into developing a standard. The workshop also addressed the standards development process and mobilizing resources.
The workshop built on other efforts to raise awareness among consumer organizations about the importance of standards in daily life.
Past initiatives include:
- A first workshop on consumer participation in standardization in December 2004 (a Consumers International project)
- Establishment of the IRAM Consumer Committee (Oct. 2006)
- Launching of the CT 153 PAN-COPOLCO, mirror committee of COPOLCO for COPANT (July 2008); of which IRAM holds the secretariat
- A second regional workshop to promote consumer participation in standardization (ISO/COPOLCO/DEVCO - November 2008).
Council welcomes moves to develop standards for toothpaste in Fiji
A toothpaste sub-committee chaired by the CEO of the Consumer Council of Fiji has been formed as a working committee of the Trade Standards Advisory Council (TSAC) to develop appropriate standards for toothpaste.
Sub-committee members include representatives from the Ministry of Health, Fiji Oral Health Workers Association, Fiji Dental Association, Head of School-Oral Health, FRICA, Fiji Grocerer’s Association, Pharmaceutical Services of Fiji, Colgate Palmolive, Makans Drugs, Ashabhai & Co. Ltd, RB Patel Group Ltd and Ministry of Industry & Trade - Trade Standards Department.
Dental caries have a significant negative impact on quality of life, economic productivity, and adult and children’s general health and development. Untreated dental caries in pre-school children are associated with poor quality of life, discomfort, and difficulty in ingesting food, which can result in failure to gain weight and impaired cognitive development.
Health research has shown that dental caries remain the most common disease worldwide and the use of fluoride toothpaste is the most effective preventative health measure. The situation analysis for Fiji in the 2004 National Oral Health Survey revealed that the occurrence of dental caries is prevalent in all age groups, with 88.3% in primary teeth and 79.3% in permanent teeth. The percentage of untreated caries in primary teeth is alarming: 85.2%, with approximately half (49.1%) of this age group having four or more decayed teeth.
A market survey conducted by the Department of Trade Standards revealed that there are six different brands of fluoridated and non-fluoridated toothpaste sold in Fiji. These are: Colgate (fluoridated), Promise (non-fluoridated), Smile-Up (fluoridated), Reclean (fluoride is added); Fluoridine and Darbur (non-fluoridated). The price of fluoride toothpaste ranges from $1.99-$5.85, whereas the price for non-fluoride toothpaste ranges from $1.99-$3.49.
The Council believes that standards for toothpaste would ensure that consumers are buying quality toothpaste for better dental health care and also rid the market of cheap low-quality toothpaste
"North North" fair trade products arrive in supermarkets
Two organizations, Alter Eco and Ethiquable, which have historically been involved in “traditional” fair trade (“North-South” trade), will launch the first domestically-produced fair trade products from French farms, in the next few months. Alter Eco will offer products labelled "Agriculture française équitable » (French Fair Agriculture) and Ethiquable will offer products labelled “Paysans d’Ici” (Farmers from Home).
Both product lines originate with French producers rather than developing countries. Lentils, muesli (cereal), fruit nectars, tea or wine are examples of products that will be sold in supermarkets under conditions similar to those of traditional fair trade from developing countries.
Products must meet established requirements of fair trade. The term "fair trade" is generally reserved for, and dedicated to, North-South trade, whereas Ethiquable and Alter Eco seek specifications which incorporate the main principles of fair trade: setting a minimum guaranteed price above the market price, payment of a development premium managed by the producer group, possibility of pre-financing, and contracts covering the business relationship over several years.
These initiatives have re-launched the debate on the relevance of implementing the principles of fair trade with local farmers. Consumer demand for local and socially-responsible products is growing. These initiatives suggest that some form of “North-North” fair trade will continue to grow, along with the need to define principles and values linked to this phenomenon.
Indonesia has adopted new standards related to toys from ISO, and these are now in translation. These are SNI ISO 8124-1:2010 (ISO 8124-1:2009, Safety of toys -- Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties), SNI ISO 8124-2:2010 (ISO 8124-2:2007, Safety of toys -- Part 2: Flammability); and SNI ISO 8124-3:1997 (ISO 8124-3:2010 Safety of toys -- Part 3: Migration of certain elements). To anticipate low-quality imported toys which could affect consumer safety, these standards will be mandatory. Indonesia is also preparing other toy standards with the aim of protecting consumers.
Indonesia has had the Consumer Protection Act since 1999 (Law No. 8/1999). As very general legislation, it aims to ensure that consumers have good products and services. It mentions in Article 8, that “Entrepreneurs are not allowed to produce and/or trade goods and/or services which (a) do not meet or comply with the required standards and provisions of the law”. However, specific consumer protection clauses should also exist in sector-specific legislations, whereas in reality this is currently very limited.
Investigation into recent consumer problems reveals that Indonesia needs International Standards for:
- Contract terms: particularly with respect to financial products and services, contracts often contain “standardized clauses” that are unfair to consumers. Having standards that show what (clauses) are prohibited in a contract can protect consumers from unfair contract terms.
- Marketing practices/methods. Recently consumers have been exposed to irresponsible and misleading marketing practices such as use of text messaging. Standards for marketing practices, especially using new media and new technology, could prevent consumers from receiving junk messages.
Networking among the young and communities
TISI’s youth network project, “TIS Knights”, has been launched, inviting students in secondary schools nationwide to participate as a network in promoting standards among their friends, families and members of the communities. They were free to design their initiatives, working with their teachers as consultants.
So far, 26,605 students from 117 schools have submitted programmes for publicizing knowledge of standards and expansion of the network. In addition, through their standards promotion activities, they have effectively helped raise public awareness and understanding of the subject, and have beeb well received by the communities.
In parallel, communities interested in improving their quality of life through standards were also able to benefit from another project that helped them develop programmes for ensuring the well-being of their members. For this latter project, local administrative organizations stepped in to collaborate, and helped with setting up programmes, using standards as a tool to meet the needs of, and generate benefits for, the communities.
The two projects, though different in process, share the same goal. They aim to create spokespersons for TISI who will promote the knowledge of standardization as a tool to enhance the well-being and safety of life and the environment. Through these standards ambassadors, networking for mutual cooperation will be strengthened and sustainable for all. .
Consumers celebrate sixty years of engagement with British Standards
In May, BSI will be welcoming consumers from around the world to London for the 33rd ISO/COPOLCO meeting (see Page 1). The key workshop theme will be Homes for tomorrow – building through standards, with main sub-topics of “greening our homes” and, sadly, the highly topical “rebuilding homes after disasters” The workshop, plenary and related events mark sixty years of consumers’ engagement with standards at BSI.
The very first meeting of the BSI Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) took place on 15 March 1951 – coincidentally the date which is now celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. Sixty years on, the volunteer members of BSI’s Consumer & Public Interest Network (CPIN), the successor to WAC, represent end users on well over 100 standards committees spanning all sorts of consumer product or service. Top-level representatives from consumer organizations and other bodies with a consumer interest provide guidance to the volunteers and policy advice to British Standards through the CPI Strategic Advisory Committee.
Back in 1951, it quickly became evident that standards were no longer the property of heavy industry but beginning to affect ordinary people – at home, work and play. Clothing standards were a major area of early consumer involvement, from defining the optimum vest length to calling for knickers to be designed so that their elastic could be replaced.
In the 1960s, UK consumers got more involved in standards for domestic appliances, covering performance as well as improved safety, such as surface temperatures of cooking appliances. Child safety became a greater focus, including topics such as the width between cot bars, permeable cot pillows and mattress covers, accurate mattress sizing to fit cots (to reduce the risk of suffocation) and safety of baby walkers.
New products and changing lifestyles in the 1970s meant new concerns. Representatives were allocated to standards for non-stick cookware, duvets, garden and playground equipment, electric toys and alarms for use by older persons. The risks posed by caravans to both holiday makers and permanent residents led to calls for improvements in building and design standards, particularly in the area of fire resistance, road-holding ability and general safety. As a result of the 70s oil crisis, energy consumption of appliances was starting to become an issue, both to aid consumer choice and in the interests of “national economy” and wider ecological concerns.
In the 1980s, a boom in new designs for children’s equipment meant consumer activity accelerated, as the standards which addressed these new products failed to keep up with newer multi-purpose designs. A call was made for a co-ordinated system of standards that first set out general requirements for all goods. ISO/IEC Guide 50, Guidelines on child safety, was published. Seatbelt legislation meant that standards were needed to address the legal and safe car transport of children. Rearwards facing child seats replaced the carrycot as the safest form of baby carrier in a car.
In 1981 BSI opened its telecommunications laboratory in Hemel Hempstead and consumer representation in this area began to consider the safety of telephone equipment.
The growing importance of European Standards in the 1990s as a means to satisfy “New Approach” European Directives meant a boom in all areas of standards work. Growing consumer involvement in the telecommunications field grew as mobile phones and new network suppliers opened up this market. The burgeoning move towards electronic payments also meant consumer involvement, to make sure that these standards addressed the needs of ordinary people. Wider issues also emerged. The revision of the UK Data Protection Act had serious implications for consumers and the move towards ensuring better service for the consumer meant involvement in standards for complaints handling.
After the Millennium, the range of work has continued to expand. Increasingly, standards relate to services and work is undertaken at both European and international levels. The current key broad areas of concern for the BSI Consumer & Public Interest Network are accessibility, sustainability, security/privacy, services and, of course, safety. The Network now has several publications describing the standards that matter to consumers and regular events to discuss areas of consumer concern: see www.bsigroup.com/consumers.