15 Key Eco Certifications For Green Manufacturers

Today’s consumers are increasingly taking a product’s eco certifications into account when making the decision to purchase products or not.

How environmentally-friendly is the product? Does the company care about their carbon footprint? Is modern slavery an issue in the supply chain? All of these questions and more align with consumer concerns these days.

We’ll explore why the sustainability trend is here and some of the key eco certifications manufacturers need to be aware of in this post…

Why sustainability is a consumer trend these days

According to PwC’s June ‘21 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, 52% of the consumers surveyed stated that they’re more eco-friendly now than before.

There are reasons for this:

  1. Natural disasters caused by climate change have become more severe and more obvious, leading to further reflection by consumers. Some examples in 2021 were the record 49.6C (121.3F) temperatures and wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, and the deadly floods that killed dozens in Germany. It’s no surprise that disasters in the West helped raise the profile of the environment’s precarious position, as disasters that occur ‘far from home’ perhaps don’t resonate so much with Western consumers.
  2. The pandemic drove an increase in working from home which, perhaps, gave a lot of people more time to consider their individual impacts on the planet.

Governments are also starting to legislate with the environment in mind, for instance, France have recently banned the wrapping of common vegetables in plastic and also has fairly stringent anti-waste laws spanning from food to electronics which make it illegal to destroy unsold food and products.

These moves wouldn’t happen without public interest, and the trend of using eco-friendly materials and becoming more sustainable and environmentally conscious as a business seems here to stay.

Key Eco Certifications you need to know about

So, with the trend towards ‘green’ in mind, which third party eco certifications are important to consumers and should be considered by manufacturers who aim to position themselves as greener options while also tapping into the sustainability movement?

 

General certifications that suit many businesses

These eco certifications are suitable for most types of businesses that want to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

 

1. Cradle To Cradle Certified

cradle to cradle eco certification

What is this certification?

Cradle To Cradle Certified (C2C) is globally used to show products that have been designed and manufactured to be safe and with a minimal negative impact on the environment. To get the Platinum certification, a product must be made with the circular economy in mind, and it  shows that the product’s constituent elements can be recycled or reused. 

What does it focus on?

The certification assesses how circular, sustainable, and safe the materials used in the product are. There are 5 categories that relate to the product’s sustainability that are each scored between Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

  1. Material health (Can the materials used negatively affect the health of the environment or users? For instance, the use of lead which is a toxic element).
  2. Product circularity (Can the product feed into the circular economy by using materials and components that can be reused, repaired, recycled, etc, to prevent the use of virgin raw materials as much as possible?).
  3. Clean air & climate protection (Does the product’s manufacturing process avoid or reduce emissions and use renewables instead of fossil fuel energy?)
  4. Water & soil stewardship (Does the manufacturing of the product use a lot of water and emit pollution as wastewater?)
  5. Social fairness (Does the company pay a fair wage, avoid Human Rights violations, and stand up for an equal society?)

In order to get certified, independent Cradle To Cradle inspectors examine each case and score them accordingly.

Gaining this certification doesn’t mean that a product can only use materials and components that have zero negative impact on the environment. After certification is gained it’s expected to be a process of continual improvement where the company further reduces the negative in favor of the positive over time.

Benefits to holders

You’re a more environmentally-responsible business that cares about manufacturing less impactful products that can, hopefully, feed into the circular economy. 

Holders will be entered into the C2C directory that can be checked by interested consumers. Therefore, although a single product holds this certification, it’s as much about the brand’s green credentials as it is about the product itself.

Consumers can see the directory of C2C certified products here and entrants have the enhanced reputations as being greener manufacturers.

 

2. Intertek Green Leaf Mark

intertek green leaf certification

What is this certification?

The Intertek Green Leaf Mark certifies that your product’s environmental claims are legitimate and demonstrates that you have the green business certifications to back up your position as a green manufacturer.

Consumers have become more conscious of buying sustainable products, but this has also led to an increase in ‘greenwashing.’ This is where brands will purposefully try to incorporate ‘green’ materials or practices into a product that, ultimately, do nothing for the environment and only provide a benefit for them in so far as they can claim to be green. An example of this would be a plastic product that uses ‘50% recycled plastic.’ That’s all very well, but it still uses 50% virgin plastic and would be greener still if it avoided the use of plastics altogether.

What does it focus on?

This certification will dispel any greenwashing claims, as Intertek will independently verify that the product is actually green, not just greenwashed. They examine the product’s:

  • Biodegradability (based on ASTM D6691 and ASTM D5511)
  • Life Cycle Assessment (quantifies environmental impact and can influence product ensign to be greener)
  • Recycled Content (validates that the recycled content is legitimate)
  • ECO Claim/s (based on REACH and other worldwide accepted standards for chemicals, the product will be validated as being free from harmful chemical content)

Benefits to holders

A brand of product with this mark gains consumer trust, can use it on packaging (as with most eco certifications) to stand out as green, and will be entered onto Intertek’s searchable Green Leaf Mark database.

 

3. Ecovadis Sustainability Rating

ecovadis sustainability ratings

What is this certification?

Ecovadis are a universal sustainability rating provider that provides all kinds of different ratings such as for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and, particularly of interest here, sustainability.

Their tens of thousands of customers include such giants as Johnson & Johnson, Centrica, ING, Saint Gobain, and Pernod Ricard, so they’re a recognisable and trusted name for sustainability certifications.

What does it focus on?

Their sustainability rating includes the assessment of environmental, social, and ethical performance across your supply chain adhering to international standards and is customized to your industry, size, and country. The results are provided as a scorecard that helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on improvements.

Benefits to holders

Holding this rating can improve business as large companies’ procurement offices routinely check Ecovadis ratings when making buying decisions and, as with others, holders are in a program where they have clear guidance from Ecovadis on how to improve different areas and can improve those over time, perhaps to gain a higher rating the following year.

A benefit of using Ecovadis as a certification partner is the catalog of assistance for manufacturers who seek to become more sustainable. For instance, this guide on how to implement CSR is a helpful introduction.

 

4. ISO 14001:2015 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

ISO 14001 environmental management system certification

What is this certification?

ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) for businesses that seek to take their environmental responsibilities seriously and is the most widely used EMS globally.

What does it focus on?

This standard helps the holder to create and put into place a management system that aims at reducing pollution and having a positive (or less negative) impact on the environment. In short, an EMS is a collection of procedures and practices that govern how a business impacts the environment. There are no ‘cookie-cutter’ EMS as, by necessity, almost every company’s will be unique to their specific requirements, products, local laws, and environment. Instead, ISO 14001 provides businesses with an internationally recognized framework and guidance for creating an effective EMS.

The sections of ISO 14001 are aligned on those of ISO 9001 and follow this outline:

  • 1-3: Introduction
  • 4: Context of the organization (defining your EMS’ scope and processes)
  • 5: Leadership (what management need to do to get the EMS into place)
  • 6: Planning (opportunities and risks defined and plans made to address them) – this is a fundamental section if you want a good implementation of the system, as explained here
  • 7: Support (who manages the EMS’ resources and what’s expected of them)
  • 8: Operation (EMS processes and emergency responses required)
  • 9: Performance evaluation (how to monitor if all aspects of the EMS are functioning well, compliant, etc)
  • 10: Improvement (monitoring, measuring, analysis and evaluation of the EMS to drive continual improvement)

Benefits to holders

The EMS will be created to help your business become more environmentally friendly. Its policies are put in place to reduce environmental impacts and assure compliance with any related regulations. A welcome benefit for businesses is that being recognized as ISO 14001 certified elevates you above other businesses that are not certified. This is especially true if your activities are potentially very polluting and/or energy-consuming (e.g. casting, electroplating, painting).

As well as the recognition as a ‘green minded’ business, a properly implemented EMS should provide you with some cost savings from different sources, such as:

  • Reduced water and energy bills due to the drive to reduce its usage.
  • Lower material costs due to focusing on using less in products and packaging and/or sourcing recycled or circular options rather than virgin materials.
  • Smaller waste costs as waste products are recycled or reused rather than being collected for disposal, often in landfills.
  • Reduced liability costs for legal compliance issues such as cases of pollution that result in environmental damage or harm to people, as these will be actively stamped out.
  • Lower insurance costs as providers recognize that you’re a well-organized and responsible business.

This is another of the broader eco certifications, as an EMS can be implemented by almost any kind of business in any country. For one company environmental goals could be to reduce energy usage and office waste, whereas for another it could be to reduce emissions from a factory and to use less harmful materials in producing products. In either of these cases, an ISO 14001 certified EMS can help you to shrink your environmental footprint.

Note: ISO 14001 is usually accompanied by ISO 14004:2016

Environmental management systems — General guidelines on implementation as this provides guidance on how to implement the EMS.

This EMS manual template is helpful to show you how your EMS might be structured.

 

5. 1% for the Planet

1% for the planet green business certification

What is this certification?

1% For The Planet is a movement of companies famously founded by environmentally-conscious clothing brand, Patagonia. Qualifying businesses donate the equivalent of 1% of their gross, brand, or product line sales to environmental charities that are recognized by the organisation.

The premise is that if a business is profiting by taking resources from the environment, giving back that 1% goes some way to redressing the balance.

What does it focus on?

Interested businesses can join the network and 1% for the planet will provide support and advice to match them with vetted environmental nonprofits who match their values and brand. For instance, a furniture brand that uses wood to manufacture its pieces may partner with and donate to a charity like the Rainforest Trust which works to protect the world’s rainforests.

The movement will assure that:

  • A portion of your purchase price will benefit legitimate environmental charities
  • The environmental footprint of the business is reduced as it’s offset by the charity work

Benefits to holders

Businesses can offset their environmental impact by donating to nonprofits whose work improves it. 

It’s accessible for any company that wants to do something to benefit the environment. because there are no real limits on product or company types who can join, members include mobile app makers, farms, apparel brands, soft drink brands, builders, law firms, and many more!

While it may be argued that membership of this movement is a form of greenwashing that doesn’t specifically drive a business to make its own products or operations less impactful on the environment, like, say, implementing an EMS would, it can’t be denied that supporting charities doing earth-friendly work that can improve the environment is a positive step by businesses.

As such, consumers will see that your business is conscious of social and ecological issues and is willing to give up profits to play its part.

Members’ commitment to donate 1% of their sales gains their membership, and as such they gain entry to a directory and a powerful certification that is well-known and influential among the environmentally-conscious consumer:

  • 45% of younger adults, ages 18-34, are aware of our brand*
  • 46% of consumers say seeing our logo on a product would positively influence their purchase*
  • 59% of younger adults, ages 18-34, see our brand positively influencing their purchasing decision*  

*according to 1%’s own research

Certifications for textile products

The following environmental certifications are focused on textile and apparel products, often considered some of the worst products for the environment.

 

6. Global Organic Textile Standard – GOTS

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

What is this certification?

Specific to textiles, Global Organic Textile Standard – GOTS (a collaboration between the Organic Trade Association in the USA, the IVN in Germany, the Soil Association in the UK and the Japanese Overseas Cooperative Association) demonstrates that your apparel or textile products use largely organic fibres which are ecologically, socially and toxicologically sound.

What does it focus on?

Independent inspectors will assess your entire supply chain for these areas of sustainability:

  • The majority of the product’s materials are certified organic (at least 70%)
  • The materials and chemicals used must be non-toxic (such as dyes, for example)
  • Water must be used sensibly during production and wastewater disposed of responsibly
  • Waste management must be handled responsibly
  • Verification of the operator’s policy on risk assessment of contamination and residue testing
  • Review of bookkeeping in order to verify the flow of GOTS Goods (input/output reconciliation, mass balance calculation and trace back lots and shipments)
  • The business adheres to fair trade practices
  • Corporate social responsibility is assessed, with inspectors looking out for labor law infractions, human rights infringements, unfair pay, and cases of inequality

Given that fast fashion is well-known for environmental and social harm by companies in the sector, this standard looks into both areas rather than only being about organic textiles alone.

It’s a very strict certification as “operators from post-harvest handling up to garment making, as well as wholesalers (including exporters and importers), have to undergo an on-site annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid certification in order for the final products to be labelled as GOTS certified.”

Benefits to holders

This focus on the entire supply chain makes the standard more complex to reach, but, on the other hand, is valuable for holders as consumers can really trust that the company has an organic supply chain and protects staff and suppliers through responsible business practices. As with most eco certifications, feedback is provided upon certification that allows the holder to work on an area with weaknesses and continually improve. 

It isn’t only apparel that can be GOTS certified, by the way, this can be applied to home textiles, mattresses, combined products (like furniture, baby bassinets, etc.), personal hygiene products (like diapers, female hygiene, earbuds), and food contact textiles, too. 

Consumers and buyers can source GOTS certified business from its website.

 

7. Bluesign Approved 

Bluedesign eco certification

What is this certification?

The Bluesign Approved mark is given to textile products assured to have been manufactured in earth-friendly conditions. Companies who gain this certification are conscious of their carbon footprint and have made a commitment to reduce air emissions, water pollution, and improve worker conditions. 

What does it focus on?

Similar to GOTS, when signing up to the ‘Bluesign system’ the entire supply chain will be audited, with a particular focus on consumer safety, worker safety, water and air emissions, waste, soil contamination, and resource usage (energy, water, chemicals, raw materials).

The process to certify textile manufacturers is as follows:

  1. Chemical inventory list evaluation and verification (They are very interested in eliminating harmful chemicals from the supply chain at an early stage. Guidance is provided to select better options.)
  2. On-site company assessment including evaluation of all risks and emissions, benchmarking resources, cost savings and environmental performance, chemical management system as well as recommendations and guidance on continuous improvements
  3. Guidance and consulting on implementing the best practices in the area of chemical management
  4. Access to the world’s largest chemical positive list for a proactive chemical change management

Benefits to holders

Bluesign certified companies benefit in the following ways:

  • Their system provides the framework to make your business more sustainable 
  • Business liability is reduced in line with potential negative impacts on the environment and people 
  • Sustainability measures can save costs, such as the reduction of resource usage
  • Continual improvement to become more sustainable over time
  • Gain a green reputation with a certification that is trusted by consumers
  • Have a USP other businesses don’t have

Textile products that are Bluesign certified tend to include a large blue tag on the product making it very obvious on the shop floor that they’re a greener option.

As ever partners will be added to a list that interested consumers can refer to.

 

8. Responsible Down Standard

responsible down standard sustainability certification

What is this certification?

The North Face launched the RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certification in 2014 in partnership with Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, and Control Union Certifications, an accredited third-party certification body with expertise in agriculture and farm systems.

Clothing and textile products made from animals are well-known for cruel supply chains where the animals suffer greatly before their skins, fur, and feathers are taken to produce the raw materials for clothing. 

Some consumers might say that not using animal products at all is the most eco-friendly and sustainable approach, but makers of performance clothing such as the North Face need to use goose down due to its superior performance. Therefore by assuring that their down comes from birds not subjected to any unnecessary harm (plucking while alive, force-feeding, etc), RDS certified brands demonstrate that their products are less cruel.

What does it focus on?

RDS auditors examine the entire down supply chain and certify each link in the chain from farm to factory. Many companies have the opportunity to gain RDS certification, as it’s available for individual farms, material suppliers, and brands.

In summary, the certification’s goals are:

  • To ensure that down and feathers do not come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm.
  • Encourage down and feather suppliers to adopt practices that uphold the humane treatment of ducks and geese and reward those that do. 
  • Allow brands to understand their supply chains at every step of the way and see the ‘chain of custody’ for certified materials.
  • Provide the USP of being able to claim that your products are low-cruelty and more sustainable.

Realistically it cannot guarantee that 100% of the down is cruelty-free 100% of the time, but as it’s a full supply chain certification it is meant to significantly reduce the chances that down products you use could be contaminated with non-compliant sources.

According to The North Face:

In 2019, more than 6,000 farms across the world were certified to the RDS, covering an estimated 735 million birds at the farm level. More than 50 brands have started using RDS-certified down in their own products.

 

Benefits to holders

Today’s consumers are aware that animals can be mistreated and subjected to horrendous conditions in order to gain skins, fur, and feathers for textiles and apparel.

Brands who can show they hold RDS certification are showing the public that they only source down from audited suppliers who have shown that they follow humane practices. For instance, small farms where geese or ducks are raised for their own consumption or commercial farms where the birds are raised for food (in a humane environment) and then obtain the down from slaughtered birds as a by-product would be preferred over those who raise birds solely for their down.

Your brand will be in good company as holders include The North Face, Uniqlo, the Benetton group, Kathmandu, Lululemon, Arc’teryx Equipment, Bimba y Lola, Canada Goose, and more. The list of RDS certified companies (suppliers and brands) can be found here.

 

9. OEKO-TEX Certifications

oeko tex certifications

What is this certification?

Made up of 17 institutes through Japan and Europe, OEKO-TEX tests and certifies textile and leather products globally to assess consumer and ecological safety throughout the supply chain as they assess products at every production stage from raw materials, components (like buttons, zippers labels, threads), to yarns and fibers, to finished products.

Materials, components, and products will be lab tested for harmful substances and the different players in the supply chain will be audited on-site so their adherence to good manufacturing practices can be assessed, for instance, leather producers don’t dump wastewater into rivers.

What does it focus on?

They provide several different certifications, each having its own focus:

  • Standard 100 (every element of the product has been lab-tested and found not to include harmful substances for the environment and humans)
  • Made In Green (the product is lab-tested for harmful substances and is sustainably produced by suppliers who hold their STeP certification for environmentally friendly and socially responsible production facilities)
  • Leather Standard (the leather is tested for harmful substances as in Standard 100, but the chromium level is tweaked to be acceptable in slightly higher amounts as much modern leather is chrome-tanned)
  • STeP (short for ‘Sustainable Textile Production,’ this certification shows other businesses that a supplier follows socially responsible and eco friendly production practices. It’s also a pre-requisite to use these suppliers for gaining their Made In Green certification)
  • Eco Passport (only chemicals certified by OEKO TEX as suitable for sustainable textile production can gain this certification. The chemicals are lab-tested and suppliers holding the certification would be preferred by companies aiming to produce eco-friendly and sustainable textile products) 

They have four product class standards, with I (products for small children) being the most strictly tested.

  • Product class I – Items for babies and infants (up to 36 months of age)
  • Product class II – Items with direct prolonged or large-area skin contact
  • Product class III – Textiles without or with little skin contact
  • Product class IV – Furnishing materials for decorative purposes (curtains, table linen, carpets, etc.)

Products are tested for their content of several hundred individual substances from 17 groups of chemicals. Elements like lead which can harm humans are just one example of the types of substance that they are testing for.

They also provide the Detox To Zero service which assesses how effective a textile manufacturer’s chemical management, chemicals used, and wastewater and sludge performances are. 

By using this a manufacturer becomes more accountable for waste-handling, environmental protection, employee health, and chemical storage and usage. Over time they can continually improve, as it is audited annually.

Benefits to holders

Over a third of consumers recognize the OEKO TEX label which means that certified brands will benefit from being seen as environmentally-conscious:

A consumer survey by BBE Retail Experts carried out in seven European countries (Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands) in 2008 found an average recognition level of 42% for the Oeko-Tex label. In a 2012 survey with 3349 participants from 13 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Great Britain, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Turkey, China), the Cologne Institute for Research in Retail Issues (IFH) found a mean aided recall level of 42% as well. (source)

Consumers will know that your products are tested for and free from harmful chemicals, are sustainably produced, safe for kids, and supply chains include suppliers who behave responsibly towards the environment and workers.

Holders of the various OEKO TEX sustainability certifications can be found in their buying guide database which can be found by buyers and consumers alike.

Even smaller suppliers can benefit, as larger brands aiming to hold Made In Green certification will be driven to work with STeP certified sub-suppliers.

Certifications for protecting forests

Most businesses use wood-based packaging and their business activities may also affect the natural environment, particularly forests, through climate change. Focusing on wood and forests, these particular eco certifications are perhaps most relevant to furniture materials, textile production, and packaging.

 

10. Forest Stewardship Council

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification

What is this certification?

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit organisation supported by the WWF, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation whose goal is to protect forests around the world for future generations by promoting sustainable forest management resulting in products that use sustainably-sourced wood and paper materials (such as furniture, packaging, books, and craft supplies). They were founded in 1992.

An FSC certified product may bear one of three labels: 

  1. 100% (products which are made of 100% virgin material from FSC-certified forests)
  2. MIX (products that are made with a combination of FSC virgin fiber, and/or recycled materials with Controlled virgin fiber)
  3. Recycled (products which are made with 100% recycled fiber)

What does it focus on?

Companies may be certified for forest management or chain of custody. 

Forest management: Independent auditors will assess the forest management (like an EMS for forests including compliance with laws, worker’s rights and environmental impact). This would be suitable for a producer of wood who manages a commercial forest and wishes to be a more sustainable business. 

Chain of custody: the auditor verifies that FSC-certified material is identified or kept separated from non-certified material throughout the chain) before granting the certification. According to the FSC:

The Chain-of-Custody process ensures the consumer that the FSC-certified products they purchase are coming from responsibly managed sources. For a consumer to purchase an FSC-certified product, every company that previously had ownership of the forest product material components of the end product would have had to be FSC certified.

The FSC’s goal is to protect forests from being used in an unsustainable way, especially rare old-growth forests (such as the tropical rainforests) from being destroyed. Their Forest Management certification provides a framework to protect the wrong forest from being used, promote sustainable business practices, and corporate social responsibility.  

Benefits to holders

FSC certification shows that you care enough about protecting forests, improving water quality, and stopping the use of harmful chemicals to invest in it and open up your supply chain to outside scrutiny.

FSC certification is fairly ubiquitous globally (open your next package and check it for labelling) and it’s expected by caring consumers and governments around the world also mandate the use of FSC-certified products in building projects, government departments, etc.

Holders can be checked in the FSC’s list here.

 

11. Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance certification

What is this certification?

The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit whose goal is to encourage responsible business that benefits the environment and people.

Farmers of all kinds of crops and materials used in furniture, foods, textiles, and more, can take advantage of this certification. You’ve no doubt seen this sticker on supermarket fruit, especially bananas!

What does it focus on?

Farmers and companies can both be certified. The focuses are a bit different for each group.

Farmers: The certification is all about helping change the way farmers operate and helping brands choose sustainable materials. They will be encouraged to farm more suitable crops, increase their farm’s productivity, protect the environment and biodiversity, reduce pesticide use, resource usage, and overheads, provide better working conditions and pay, and make changes to help them cope with climate change. adapt to climate change, increase their productivity, and reduce costs. 

Farms will be audited by an independent rainforest alliance auditor who will assess the farm’s management, traceability, farming practices, social responsibility, environmental impact and protection measures, and more.

Companies: Your supply chain’s chain of custody is audited, assuring that your products include materials/crops from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and tracks them through every step of the production process so they are not contaminated by non-compliant materials. Holders will be confident that their supply chain is sustainable and can sell products as such, benefiting from being able to tap into the market of consumers who seek out such products over their unsustainable counterparts.

Benefits to holders

Rainforest Alliance farms are better for the environment, more productive, and better able to withstand the challenges of climate change. Furthermore, they are preferred by Rainforest Alliance certified businesses who demand Rainforest Alliance certified suppliers and materials.

Certified companies not only get to publicly demonstrate that they are serious about having a positive impact on the environment, but they also feed into the entire certification ecosystem where farms, traders, and manufacturers are all working to improve the natural environment, reduce pollution, protect biodiversity, and also providing better wages and working conditions for staff.  

Buyers and consumers can check the list of certified companies and farms here.

Certifications for reducing animal-cruelty

Animal cruelty is commonly related to cosmetics, homeware, personal products, clothing, accessories, etc. By becoming certified as low-cruelty a business becomes greener and more environmentally and socially conscious.

 

12. Leaping Bunny

leaping bunny cruelty free international

What is this certification?

The Leaping Bunny programme from Cruelty Free International is the globally-recognisable gold standard for ‘cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care and household products that has been in use since 1996.

The certification independently audits your supply chain to assure that no animal testing is taking place at any point. Businesses must commit to a fixed cut-off point after which no animal-tested materials or ingredients may be used in their products by themselves or their global suppliers. A continuous monitoring system is set up to assure no animal testing takes place and is reviewed annually and independently audited.

What does it focus on?

Cruelty Free International primary focus is on ending global animal testing on a whole range of products. They were founded in 1898 and in their 100+ years of operation have achieved many notable achievements in the fields of animal testing and cruelty reduction, such as driving the EU to ban all animal testing for cosmetics, stopping major airlines from transporting monkeys for testing, and minimizing animal testing during REACH testing.

The certification provides businesses with the onus they need to reduce animal testing by removing any animal-tested ingredients or materials from their entire supply chains. This particular eco-certification focuses on animal welfare rather than the environment, however, this is still an area of sustainability many consumers are interested in.

Benefits to holders

Consumers know that holders of the Leaping Bunny certification Leaping Bunny Program do not test any new ingredients, raw materials, or finished products on animals and this has been assured by independent auditing. 

Major brands holding the leaping bunny certification include The Body Shop, Garnier, LUSH, Aldi UK, Ecover, Seventh Generation, Aesop, Burt’s Bees, and thousands more! 

It’s possible to find Leaping Bunny cruelty-free products via their product search page.

 

13. PETA – Approved Vegan

peta approved vegan

What is this certification?

The PETA Approved Vegan certification is granted to brands who produce clothing, accessories, furniture, and home decor products made from vegan alternatives to animal-derived materials, such as leather, fur, silk, feathers, and bone.

Both the business and all of their manufacturers or suppliers of materials or components destined for the vegan approved product/s need to complete a ‘statement of assurance.’ This will be reviewed by PETA and certification granted if no issues are found. The certification is maintained with an annual fee, although if new suppliers are taken on in that time they will need to fill out a new SOA that will be inspected by PETA.

Interestingly, no testing is required to gain this certification, so some may be critical and suggest that it may be abused for greenwashing. PETA recommend lab testing that products and materials do not contain animal-derived material and provide options to do so at your discretion.

It is worth noting that single products or ranges from a company can hold this certification, even if others do not. For instance, if a fashion brand has a range of vegan sneakers made without leather whilst other ranges they sell do incorporate it.

What does it focus on?

This certification helps companies who want to make it very clear that they produce vegan products demonstrate this objective. By avoiding animal products in their goods, they are very low cruelty and more sustainable as it’s unlikely animals are harmed to make them.

Benefits to holders

Major names hold this certification, such as H&M, SKECHERS, and Dr. Martens. Vegan consumers will be attracted to brands following this certification, and so holding it helps you to become known as an animal-friendly brand that may fit in well with your business philosophy.

A list of approved companies can be found here.

Certifications for energy efficiency

Improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions and one’s carbon footprint has become all the more urgent given the state of climate change. These green business certifications help a business to reduce energy usage and emissions which has a very positive impact on the environment.

 

14. Certified Carbon Neutral

Certified Carbon Neutral

What is this certification?

To obtain Certified Carbon Neutral status from Natural Capital Partners, a company must calculate their carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it to zero through a combination of efficiency measures in-house and supporting external emission reduction projects such as tree planting initiatives.

What does it focus on?

They provide The CarbonNeutral Protocol which is a framework devised in 2002 that businesses can follow to become carbon neutral along with support from outside specialists.

The protocol includes these stages:

  1. Define – what is being made carbon neutral (company, product, department)? What emissions are included for each?
  2. Measure – emissions are defined and independent emissions assessors come in to measure them.
  3. Target – your business makes a commitment to become carbon neutral from your current level.
  4. Reduce – actions (such as implementing energy-efficiency measures, using renewable energy, reducing work travel, etc) are decided on and you take them to reduce emissions.
  5. Communicate – you’re supported to communicate your progress towards carbon neutrality at each stage to key stakeholders.

This is a business certification built to make businesses carbon neutral. The protocol is a framework providing various initiatives that can be used to reduce emissions through numerous methods such as using more energy-efficient devices in offices.

Benefits to holders

Businesses who become carbon neutral should enjoy the status of being a climate leader, reduced costs that come along with energy efficiency and reduction in travel, for instance, and a reduction in risk of being taxed on carbon footprint size which is threatened. 

You are transparent in your measurement and disclosure of emissions, and steps taken to reduce them and it almost goes without saying that carbon neutrality has a positive effect on the environment, especially climate change, as your business is not as actively engaged in activities that are leading to global heating.

Many large corporations and smaller businesses hold carbon neutral certification such as Microsoft, Sky, Logitech, Eden water, PwC, Yorkshire tea, and more.

You can see more examples here.

 

15. Energy Star

energy star eco certification

What is this certification?

Energy Star certified products are more energy-efficient, therefore they play a smaller part in the emissions and global heating caused by power generation and the numerous negative knock-on effects such as climate change, droughts, wildfires, flooding, habitat loss, and more.

The certification is a voluntary program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA in 1992 that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency. Products will be lab-tested by an independent lab recognized by the US EPA and, if they reach the EPA’s specifications for energy efficiency, the certification will be granted.

What does it focus on?

Energy Star certified products are the same as other similar products but are found to have better energy efficiency. Stringent lab tests are performed to measure a products energy usage. It is reviewed annually.

Benefits to holders

Products that use less energy are better for the environment, therefore gaining this certification is a way for businesses to become more sustainable. Lower energy usage puts less strain on the environment as, by definition, running the products will result in fewer emissions than other comparable non-energy star certified products.

In North America alone this certification is well-known and the site offers a directory for consumers to shop for energy star certified products. It should be noted that products sold outside the USA and Canada also display this certification, too, so it’s globally recognized.

Conclusion

No matter what a company’s motivation is for becoming greener, these eco certifications are good examples of the many choices you can make to differentiate yourself from the competition, especially in the context of consumers being more concerned about a company’s green credentials these days.

It’s fair to say that certain certifications are more open to abuse and use for greenwashing, especially those that do not independently audit the holders, but, in general, the majority provide a solid framework for a company to continually improve how earth-friendly it is. Take ISO 14001, as an example. This certification literally drives companies to put in place an environmental management system whose goal is to reduce environmental impact.

From a business perspective, the ability to gain new customers, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world’s most beloved and recognizable brands and reduce costs through efficiency savings, as well as benefitting the planet and humanity; obtaining eco certifications makes very good sense today in the 21st century.

About Renaud Anjoran

Our founder and CEO, Renaud Anjoran, is a recognised expert in quality, reliability, and supply chain issues. He is also an ASQ-Certified ‘Quality Engineer’, ‘Reliability Engineer’, and ‘Quality Manager’, and a certified ISO 9001, 13485, and 14001 Lead Auditor.

His key experiences are in electronics, textiles, plastic injection, die casting, eyewear, furniture, oil & gas, and paint.

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