The Environmental Protection Ministry has embarked on a campaign to promote awareness of environmentally friendly consumption. The ministry yesterday held a meeting with the Standards Institution of Israel, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and consumer organizations, to discuss ways of deepening public awareness of the issue.

Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said the ministry intends to expand the Green Label to include services. The Green Label, issued by the Standards Institute, confirms that a product met a rigid set of criteria vis-a-vis the environment, and is valid a year. Just 30 industries and 80 products are currently entitled to the label. The goal of the Manufacturers Association is to expand entitlement to 300 by the end of 2008, and expand its use to services, schools and hospitals.

Ezra added that the ministry plans to advertise an annual awards ceremony for the winning products and companies. "Currently, there are products on the market which are marked as environmentally friendly, even though they have received no endorsement from any authorized body, such as the Standards Institute," he said. Ezra says he discussed the possibility of increasing budgeting for the ministry with Prime Minister Olmert, to reduce the health hazards caused by polluting industries. He expressed his support for giving preference to suppliers carrying the Green Label in state tenders.

A representative of the Blue Square grocery chain said that the chain would begin selling cloth bags only, which would replace plastic bags. Ezra asked the Blue Square, and other firms to help promote the environmental initiative by providing Green Label products prime store-shelf space.

Manufacturers Association head Yehuda Segev added that the Green Label could be expected to increase sales of a product, by boosting its image.