German inspection services group TUV Rhineland has expanded its global eco-labelling network to Australia.

An agreement signed with not-for-profit Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) adds to TUV Rheinland's strategy of creating a global network of Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) partners to enable the global market access of products certified by environmental labels such as the TUV Rheinland Green Product Mark.

"Today, companies in all industries need to consider their ecological and social footprint to remain successful in the market," says Holger Kunz, EVP of products, TUV Rheinland. "Consumers want confidence that the products and services they purchase reflect their own values. With this MOU partnership, TUV Rheinland provides solutions-centric environmental and social sustainability services to drive changes in their businesses."

TUV Rheinland will collaborate with GECA's existing IAF accredited auditors as a qualified conformity assessment body (CAB) conducting on-site audits for GECA's certification scheme. There will also be joint development of the common core criteria for standards for products and services certified in accordance to the rules set out for Type 1 ecolabelling members, recognised by the Global Ecolabelling Network Internationally Coordinated Ecolabelling System (GENICES) scheme.

Together, TUV Rheinland and GECA plan to carry out joint scientific and industrial research projects on international, German and Australian standards development practices.

"This is a significant development in the evolution of GECA and it will definitely increase the momentum behind eco-labelling in Australia and, by extension, around the world," adds Kate Harris, CEO of GECA. "We will do this through jointly organising and participating in workshops, seminars, and other business promotion activities and research on how best to stimulate sustainable public procurement through eco-labels.

"Not only will we drive demand for sustainable procurement globally, we will also strengthen the links between Australian and international markets for credible, trustworthy ecolabelled products and services. We will make it even easier for people to access those products and services, and to be confident they are making a better choice."