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ISO Consumer update

No. 12 - November 2012

….An update of ISO's activities regarding standards and consumer protection, for the members and stakeholders of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

ISO/COPOLCO is ISO's forum for promoting consumer interests in standardization. Its mission is to:

  • Enhance the market relevance of International Standards by promoting and facilitating the input of consumers' views into ISO's policies, procedures, standards and services
  • Help consumers around the world benefit from standardization.

You are receiving this eNewsletter because you are involved in the activities of ISO/COPOLCO.

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What's happening …

OECD launches an international database of recalled products

The OECD has launched an online portal to give consumers, businesses and governments quick and easy access to the latest information on products recalled from the market in Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States. See

Consumers will be able to check whether a product they plan to buy in a store or online, such as a baby bottle or a bicycle, has been taken off shelves in another country. Businesses, such as importers or retailers, will be able to react quickly and pull products as soon as concerns arise.

The portal will also help improve co-ordination among regulators and governments so that dangerous products can be removed from sale and enforcement stepped up.

Speaking at the launch in Brussels on 19 October, OECD Deputy Secretary-General Rintaro Tamaki said: “The past decade has seen a sharp increase in the number of product recalls. With ever more sophisticated and globalized supply chains in international trade, it’s more vital than ever that governments co-operate and respond quickly to issues as they arise. The portal will play a key role in facilitating co-operation and information sharing.”

“In our global marketplace and interconnected world, information sharing is key,” said Ms. Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Providing consumers in different jurisdictions with access to recall information from another country will empower them and advance the cause of safety.”

Many governments regularly publish product safety recalls on their own websites but the OECD portal offers a single access point and makes the information available in more than 100 languages. Other jurisdictions are encouraged to join the initiative.

See more.


ISO tracks stakeholder participation in working groups of Technical Committees

An upgrade of ISO's central database of members and experts, the Global Directory (GD), now allows a detailed breakdown of stakeholder composition of experts participating in ISO's working groups, including consumer stakeholders.

Following work by an ad hoc group, the ISO Technical Management Board defined stakeholder categories in the GD as follows: Industry and commerce, Government, Consumers, Labour, Academic and research bodies, Standards application and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Related efforts of the TMB led ISO to publish two helpful guidance brochures in 2011: one for ISO's National Standards Bodies and one for ISO's liaison organizations

Ensuring balanced representation is an objective within ISO's 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. Defining stakeholder categories and monitoring will help achieve this.

This is a welcome development as it is the first system-wide initiative to record the areas and extent of consumer  involvement in ISO's technical work.  

See more.


Friend us on Facebook! ISO/COPOLCO launches its Facebook page

The ISO Committee on consumer policy  (ISO/COPOLCO) has now launched its own Facebook page, complementing other networks for maintaining contacts with its members. The page is an open, interactive forum, accessible to the public. 

Contributions and questions are welcome from concerned individuals, and from consumer and civil society organizations interested in standards and consumer protection issues.

COPOLCO members and their stakeholders can freely share news and debate issues related to standards, legislation and consumer protection.

Go to for some background and state your preferences.

Friend us on Facebook and join the discussion now!


43rd World Standards Day

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate within IEC, ISO and ITU to develop voluntary International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances. The theme this year was: Less waste, better results - Standards increase efficiency.

See more.


ISO workshop tackles global water challenges

More than 150 participants attended the ISO international workshop on water access and use, organized in conjunction with the Sewage Works Exhibition in Kobe, Japan – one of the world’s largest events on the subject.

The workshop, “Global water challenges – How can ISO standards help?”, hosted by the Japanese Standards Association (JSA) on 25-26 July 2012, aimed to:

  • Raise awareness of water-related standardization and its potential to disseminate technology, share knowledge and best practices, and diffuse needed solutions on a global basis
  • Propose and examine standardization initiatives to address the global water challenge
  • Identify priorities and define a recommended action plan for the development of new ISO standards in the field.

Almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water and more than 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year as a result of water and sanitation-related diseases. It is also estimated that improved water, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent at least 9 % of the global disease burden and 6 % of all deaths.

See more.


What's new in International Standards

Revised ISO standard to measure shelf-life of contact lenses

The number of contact lens users keeps growing year after year, around the world. This is due to significant progress made in lens quality and comfort. However, it is important that the quality of contact lenses is maintained throughout their proposed shelf-life. A revised ISO standard will help to ensure that the quality of contact lenses does not deteriorate during storage and that the lenses will be safe and effective at time of use.

See more.


US Government standards chief praises ISO's sustainability standards

ISO is making enormous progress in developing standards for sustainability and is taking the lead in this area through standards like ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 50001 (energy management), according to Dr. Patrick Gallagher, the US Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“I applaud and celebrate ISO for taking the lead in sustainability standardization,” he said in his opening address at the 35th General Assembly of ISO, the world's largest developer of International Standards, on 19 September in San Diego, USA, hosted by the ISO member for the country, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

See more.


Green with envy - less waste, more results thanks to new ISO standard for eco-efficiency assessment

Given today’s economic turmoil, ongoing environmental challenges and pressure to contribute to a more sustainable planet, a new ISO International Standard for applying eco-efficiency assessment to product systems has a huge worldwide potential.

The newly published ISO 14045:2012, Environmental management – Eco-efficiency assessment of product systems – Principles, requirements and guidelines, describes the principles, requirements and guidelines for eco-efficiency assessment for product systems.

See more.


ISO standard for designing the ultra-efficient home

Between the rising cost of living and concerns about protecting the environment, homeowners have become increasingly interested in finding ways to cut down on energy use. A new ISO International Standard gives a framework for taking into consideration the design process in buildings that will lead to greater energy efficiency – and lower energy bills.

Energy consumption in buildings – including climate control, appliances, lighting and other installed equipment – represents nearly 40 % of the world’s total energy use. Introducing energy efficiency in the design process leads to a reduction in energy demand through a global approach to the building, including analysis of the building location, definition of the building envelope, energy systems and products.

ISO 13153:2012, Framework of the design process for energy-saving single-family residential and small commercial buildings, will help designers to evaluate the energy-saving effectiveness of the elemental technology options at different stages of the design process.

See more.


Around the world … COPOLCO member news


Over the past year, the Czech Cabinet for Standardization has enlarged its base of representatives in national mirror technical standardization committees (TCs) to cover areas identified as important for consumer participation. These include personal protective equipment, gas appliances, lifts and elevators, accessibility, nanotechnologies, furniture, and child safety.

The Czech Consumer Association has also published several leaflets:
Design for All? How standards can help” describes how standards help disabled and seniors: surface temperatures of domestic appliances, information for hearing and sight-impaired persons, and seven principles for standardization for construction for all.

Another leaflet, "International standards are important for all of us” gives examples from areas such as international trade, tourism, energy efficiency, and cosmetics.

A booklet “How to be successful on the market? With standards!” explains the  advantages of standards for small and medium enterprises, and indirectly, for consumers.

The Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing (UNMZ) is implementing the new European Union Strategic Vision for Standardization. Measures include financial support of consumer and SME participation in standardization.

See more.



The Egyptian Organization for Standardization reports that the following national standards for consumer protection have been published in Egypt recently:

- ES 7183 / 2011, Service, Repair, and Maintenance centers
- ES 4637 / 2010, Warranty Certificate                   
ES 4841 / 2008, Advertising requirements of products and services
ES 6624 / 2008, Billing
ES 5008 / 2005, Advertising requirements for children



Consumer Council of Fiji challenges home brand products

According to the  Consumer Council of Fiji, home brand products have made their mark in the Fijian market, and remain a lucrative business. These are either unknown "brands" (generic brands or clones), or concocted brands (defined here as brands without factories). The standard practice is for a retailer or distributor to register a brand name and then identify a factory that will produce the generic. The products are shipped to Fiji without any spare parts, leaving consumers frustrated and out of pocket.

Consumers often face problems with home brand products. The Council’s recently launched report on “Hire Purchase Industry in Fiji” (see ISO Consumer update, No. 11)  reveals that 21% of the consumers reported that the goods they purchased went bad before payments were completed.

One glaring example is unavailability of the R600A refrigerant used in refrigerators. This gas is banned globally, but fridges entering Fiji had the R600A refrigerant. A “home brand” Akita fridge is useless after 3 years because  the fridge needs R600A gas which is not available locally.

The Council is often told that the home brands and concocted products sold in the Fiji market are to assist low income earners who can’t afford branded products. This case reveals the opposite. In the name of low income consumers, shoddy products are sold, making the poor poorer. Meanwhile, the Council will continue to demand that generics, home brand or in-house branded products entering the Fiji market undergo safety/environmental, energy efficiency, and testing procedures before the products are sold.

See more.

conference room



The Swedish Consumer's Association holds sustainable development workshop

A major workshop is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden on 15 November, directly preceding the General Assembly of BEUC, the European Consumer Organization.  The seminar will focus on the eight consumer rights and sustainable consumption, in alignment with ISO 26000 concepts. The seminar aims to bring clarity on how to achieve sustainable consumption in practice by highlighting consumers' role in sustainable development and the need for political engagement.

Birgitta Ohlsson, Minister of EU Affairs and Consumer Affairs in Sweden, and the consumer rights activist, Anwar Fazal will be among the keynote speakers.

See more.



Get them young

Pupils are the consumers and standards developers of the future and for several years, now, BSI has provided information to schools on standards. For example, tackling a topic such as building a safe playground helps an understanding of the importance of safety and how these issues are covered in standards.

The BSI education resources are now being made available more widely through the key UK publication for teachers, the Times Education Supplement (TES) repository. In the first week, there were 1,640 views.

See more

Farewell to the Olympics and Paralympics

Britain has enjoyed hosting the Olympics and Paralympics, not least the nation’s success in the events. However it has also been a success for sustainability and standards. An independent report compiled before the games started indicated that that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games would be the most sustainable ever held.

See more.

The London organizing committee, LOCOG, was one of the early adopters of ISO 20121, published earlier this year, and its forerunner, BS 8901, Specification for a Sustainability Management System for Events which was first developed in 2007.


Did you know …?

Deaths and injuries worldwide from unsafe products are estimated to cost more than USD 1 trillion each year, according to the OECD.


To find out more...

Visit us in the consumer section of ISO's Web site, ISO Online, Consult: "Resources for ….. Consumers".

Is the ISO member in your country a member of COPOLCO? If not, encourage this national standards body to join COPOLCO!

For a full list of ISO members, see

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ISO Consumer update is a free service by the Secretariat of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).
Editor: Ms. Dana Kissinger-Matray, Secretary of ISO/COPOLCO.

ISO Consumer update gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Marketing, Communication and Information services of the ISO Central Secretariat.


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