- Diversitech Team
Guide To Sustainable Certifications and Eco-Friendly Seals For Retailers
Updated: May 2
If you're an entrepreneur with a focus on sustainability, you know that it's more important than ever to make sure your products and supply chain are eco-friendly. Fortunately, there are lots of great sustainability certifications out there to help you make sure your business is doing its part to protect the planet.
However, the many certifications, marks, and labels are confusing because multiple organizations provide guidance for different product areas. It can be difficult to know which certification or mark is the most reliable or meaningful. It is important to do your research before trusting any particular certification or mark.
In this article, we'll introduce you to some of the most popular sustainable certifications, and we'll show you how they can help your business run more efficiently and ethically.
Here are 33 environmentally friendly business ideas to kickstart your sustainable business
What Are Sustainable Certifications And Eco-Friendly Seals?
If you are a sustainable-minded entrepreneur, then you know the importance of having reputable sustainability certifications and eco-friendly seals. These certifications provide credibility to your company and help to show your customers that you are serious about being sustainable.
Many customers will research a solution, product, or service before making a purchase, and will look for companies with respected seals and certifications. So if you want to make sure your business is seen as credible in the eyes of consumers, it's important to have some well-recognized sustainability certifications and eco-friendly seals from reputable organizations.
Choosing the Best Sustainable Certifications And Eco-Friendly Seals
Certifications related to reporting sustainability and eco-friendly business practices can be confusing, as there is no single standard in the industry. The different frameworks and standards each provide their own approach to reporting, making it difficult to decide which certification to pursue.
When it comes to sustainability certifications and reporting, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some organizations are stricter than others when it comes to awarding certification, while others prioritize guiding companies towards greener choices over time. Unfortunately, some of these organizations have been accused of greenwashing in the past.
However, this variety can be seen as an opportunity to find the certification that best suits a business's needs to provide them with the most value. By taking the time to research the different options available, entrepreneurs can find a certification that will help them which certification will be most beneficial for their business.
The Benefits Of Sustainable Certification And Eco-Friendly Labels For Retailers
If you're looking to show your customers that you're serious about being sustainable, then you know the importance of having reputable sustainability certifications and eco-friendly seals. These certifications provide credibility to your company and help to show your customers that you're taking steps to become more environmentally friendly.
Sustainability certifications can also help your business save money and become more efficient in the long run. Furthermore, third-party certifications of sustainability improve brand loyalty and trust and can be valuable marketing tools through brand image and so on.
Certifications can be important when customers require or prefer to work with verifiably sustainable businesses. They demonstrate your commitment to employees and partners internally, as well as verify your sustainability to customers and the local community.
Related: A guide to sustainable retail industry 2023
The Benefits Of Sustainable Certification And Green Seals For Consumers
Consumers want to know that the products they're buying are not only good for the environment but that they're also sustainable. That's where sustainable certification and green seals come in - they provide assurance to consumers that a product is indeed environmentally friendly and sustainable.
It helps them make an informed decision when purchasing products, knowing that their money is going towards something beneficial for the environment. Additionally, green seals and sustainable certification can help bolster consumer confidence in the product itself, as they know it has been evaluated and approved by a trusted third-party.
20 Organizations That Offer Sustainable Certifications And Eco-Friendly Seals
A. General Certification Category
1. Global Recycle Standard (GRS)
The GRS was created for companies that want to verify the recycled materials in their products (finished and intermediate goods) as well as ensure responsible social, environmental, and chemical practices were used during production. In other words, the objectives of the GRS include defining requirements for truthful content claims while also guaranteeing safety standards for workers and minimizing negative impacts on chemicals and the environment.
See this article for a complete guide to sustainable materials
For businesses that want to support environmental solutions, the 1% for the Planet network is a great option. Members of the network commit to donating 1% of gross sales to approved environmental nonprofits. A directory of these nonprofits is available on their website, and it can be filtered by climate, pollution, water, food, wildlife, and land.
Take a look at our complete guide to 1% percent for the planet
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), also known as SCS Global Services Inc., is a world-renowned provider of third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development. With over 30 years of experience in the field, SCS has developed some of the most internationally recognized standards and certification programs available today – all in pursuit of the highest level of environmental performance and social accountability possible.
B Corp certification measures a company's entire social and environmental performance. To become certified, brands must apply for and receive voluntary certification from B Lab, a nonprofit that ensures companies meet verified standards for social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.
B. Sustainability Reporting Certification Category
1. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
GRI is an international organization that helps businesses take responsibility for their impacts by providing them with a common language to communicate those impacts. The GRI Standards are the world’s most widely used standards for sustainability reporting.
2. Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
SASB's industry standards are perfect for public companies that want to fully disclose their sustainability practices and results. SASB has a comprehensive, worldwide set of sector-specific standards that identify which sustainability topics and metrics are financially material for the average company in an industry
3. Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
The Financial Stability Board initiated the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures to improve climate-related financial reporting so that investors can make more informed decisions. The TCFD disclosure recommendations center around four areas: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. By implementing these guidelines, organizations will be able to provide better disclosures about their climate risks and opportunities.
C. Climate And Environment Certification Category
Climate Neutral's goals are to assist businesses in measuring, offsetting, and reducing their carbon emissions. When companies become certified, they are also helping to funnel money into climate change solutions which will reduce global carbon levels. Furthermore, Climate Neutral certification is evidence for consumers that a company wants to help the planet through its practices
To be Cradle to Cradle certified, a product must use materials that are environmentally safe and healthy. It must also be designed for material re-utilization, recycling, or composting. The manufacturing process must make efficient use of energy, water and protect water quality while considering the use of renewable energy.
Related: Recycling vs Upcycling: What’s the Difference?
3. Rainforest Alliance Certified
The Rainforest Alliance Certified mark on products or ingredients means that the product is certified to strict standards that protect forests, climate, human rights and improve livelihoods. The certification includes agricultural products and ingredients, forestry products, and tourism businesses. For example, labor protections are in place for farm workers such as personal protective gear requirements.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a nonprofit environmental organization that independently certifies responsibly managed forests. FSC-certified products come from forest management practices that provide economic, social, and environmental benefits. There are also different labels for FSC, including “100 percent virgin materials”, “mixed from responsible materials”, and “made from recycled materials”
D. Energy Certification Category
1. Energy Star
Certifying electronics, appliances, homes, buildings, and industrial plants for conformance to the ENERGY STAR standards. For example, these standards require washing machines use about 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers.
EPEAT is the world's leading environmental rating system for electronics. With over 4,400 products from 60 manufacturers in 43 countries, EPEAT makes it easy to find high-performance electronics that are also good for the planet. The EPEAT criteria cover every stage of a product's lifecycle, from design and production through to energy use and recycling.
3. National Green Building Standard
The National Green Building Standard certification goes well beyond saying a home is energy efficient. It provides independent, third-party verification that a home, apartment building, or land development is designed and built to achieve high performance. NGBS is currently the only residential green building rating system to be approved by ANSI as an American National Standard.
E. Specialized Certification Category
1. CRI Green Label & Green Label Plus
The Carpet and Rug Institute issues labels that reveal how much VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) a carpeting product, including cushions, adhesive, and backing, emits. Also, these standards take into account post-consumer content, the lack of PBDE flame retardant chemicals present, life cycle assessment results, and rates of recycling.
2. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most widely-known certification for organic companies. If you're looking for certified organic bedding or garments, this is likely what you'll see on the label. GOTS is a self-funded nonprofit that works to set an international standard for sustainable textile and natural fiber production practices—everything from ethical harvesting methods to product distribution channels.
3. Processed Chlorine Free and Totally Chlorine Free
The not-for-profit Chlorine Free Products Association (CFPA) issues these accreditations to paper products that avoid using chlorine or chlorine compounds in the processing. This can support cleaner rivers and water supplies. The Processed Chlorine Free label is only given to recycled content paper with a minimum of 30% post-consumer content.
F. Construction And Infrastructure Certification Category
FloorScore is the most well-known IAQ certification standard for hard surface flooring materials, adhesives, and underlayments. This was created by RFCI with Scientific Certification Systems to test and deem hard surface flooring and adhesive products compliant with tough indoor air quality and low VOC emission requirements.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most well-known third-party verification for construction projects that are environmentally friendly. Homeowners and builders can obtain LEED certification by meeting specific standards set forth across different categories related to sustainability. In general, LEED buildings use resources more efficiently than non-LEED certified buildings do, resulting in cost savings for building owners over time.
The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (IMTS) created the SMART certification to assist homeowners in identifying sustainable building materials. The SMART label is awarded to products, fabrics, apparel items, textiles & flooring coverings that meet tough standards for life cycle assessment and environmentally friendly practices across the supply chain.
How Can One Get An Eco-Friendly Seal For Their Business
A company’s sustainability reporting framework is a detailed report describing commitments, accomplishments, and carbon footprint. The focus is more on “reporting”, i.e. how to provide and share all the details with your stakeholders as opposed to a formal certification. Official sustainability accounting standards will emerge similar to the financial accounting standards we have today which are highly regulated
A certification is audited and verified by a 3rd party although the line between reporting and certifications is becoming more blurry as certifications begin to embrace reporting standards.
Similar to the public sustainability reporting world, there is no one certification standard and the certification options are very fragmented.
Being certified means that a company meets rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. To even apply for certification, companies must first go through an intense process and meet various conditions. The certification board may look at the day-to-day operations ( activities) as well as if the business model is designed to have a positive impact.
Many third-party certification providers offer easy, flexible, and effective online applications. Companies are often given a grade for each green activity they complete. In addition, certified programs can give best practices and guidelines to help businesses successfully carry out new green initiatives.
Related Topic: The Positive Impacts of Using Ocean Bound Plastics
So, what does all of this mean for business owners? It means that there are a variety of certification options available to help businesses become more sustainable. The most important thing is to start somewhere - begin by evaluating your company's operations and products and see where you can make the biggest impact.
Reach out to third-party certification providers for guidance and support as you make the transition to becoming a more environmentally friendly business. With so many benefits to being certified, it's worth taking the time to get started.