- Climate-aware, sustainable, environmentally friendly, eco. A brief overview of well-known UK sustainability certifications.
Sustainability is no longer a USP, but an integral part of any goods or service offered by good companies. That is a good thing, a very good thing, in fact. It means the days when consumers do not care whether the product they buy was tested on animals or not. Whether children working in ghastly conditions, round the clock, thousands of miles are stitching buttons onto that fashionable shirt, you paid next to nothing is gone.
An increasing number of consumers want to know how sustainable the product is, or how environmentally friendly the service is. Many large organisations, including government agencies, want sustainability certifications or statements from their suppliers before a deal can be done or a contract approved. This has led to manufacturers and suppliers making environmental claims about their products and services.
How do you know that the environmental claim made by a product or service is true? How do you ensure a product is not jumping on the bandwagon by greenwashing its products or services?
One of the best ways to ascertain a product’s or service’s environmental claims is through third-party certification. The thing is that there are an awful lot of green certification organisations out there. How do you know which is which? This article looks at some of the most widely known and respected sustainability certification organisations in the UK.
Sustainability Certifications for UK Businesses
- General Business Sustainability Certification
Certification name: ISO 14001
Certification body: International Standards Organisation.
Certification awarded: ISO 14001.
How to get started: By reading around the certification process to determine whether it is a process you can do in house, whether you need a third party to guide your business through the certification process.
More about ISO 14001 Certification:
This is one of the oldest and most respected sustainability accreditations. The certification process is well laid out by the International Standards Organisation. It is argued by some that it is suitable for businesses of all sizes. In reality, because of the resources needed to achieve this certification. Only medium and large organisations may be able to set aside the resources required to implement an EMS (Environmental Management System) that could see your organisation through the ISO 14001 certification. There is wide recognition and respect for this certification in the marketplace.
Certification name: Carbon Trust Certified
Certification organisation: Carbon Trust.
Certification awarded on completion: Various, depending on the business, product, or event type.
How to get started: You can use some of their free carbon footprint reduction tools and resources to get started.
More about Carbon Trust certification:
An accreditation or certification from Carbon Trust is one of the most respected endorsements in sustainability. They have a track record of working with medium and large organisations, especially large companies with complex supply chains. Other sustainability certifications in their portfolio include product carbon footprint labelling, carbon management in the infrastructure industry, and PAS 2060: the only internationally recognised standard for carbon neutrality. Carbon Trust seems to be the only major sustainability certification organisation that certifies event sustainability.
Certification name: 1% For The Planet
Certification organisation: 1% For The Planet
Certification awarded on completion: The right to use 1% For The Planet certification logo on your business documents and products.
More about 1% for The Planet certification:
In the strict sense, this is not a sustainable certification per se. The organisation encourages your business to give to selected environmental causes. Once you join, you are introduced to their approved environmental causes. You can donate to the causes in cash or in kind. Your donations should be at least 1% of your revenue. Once you have made the required donations, 1% will verify and then certify your donations. Your business is then listed in their community and network. You are able to use their certification logo to show that your organisation is part of the 1% for the planet movement.
Certification name: Green Mark
Certification organisation: Green Mark
Certification awarded: Green Mark
How to get started: By visiting Green Mark website to find out more information.
More about Green Mark certification:
Green Mark sustainability certification is for businesses of all sizes, whether you have one office or multiple offices. Their certification process uses an environmental management system to help you identify how to get to where your business needs to be in its sustainability journey. They work with you directly to achieve the certification. On completion of the certification process, you will be able to use their certification logo. They seem to have worked with a lot of businesses in the textile industry.
Certification name: B Corp
Certification body: B Lab
Certification awarded: B Corp Certified
How to get started: By visiting the B Corp certification overview page.
More about B Corp certification:
The process is said to be designed to make it affordable for companies of any size to achieve the B Corp certification. Like most of the larger certification organisations, the best way to apply for and achieve B Corp certification is to go through the certification process with a sustainability professional. Compared with the much larger certification organisations B Corp fees are indeed small business friendly. B Lab provides a free, comprehensive impact assessment tool, which you can use to get a baseline for where your company is at the moment in its sustainability accreditation journey.
Certification: Planet Mark
Certification organisation: Planet Mark
Certification awarded: Planet Mark
How to get started: Visit the certification process overview page on Planet Mark mark website.
More about Planet Mark:
Planet Mark accreditation process is clearly divided into three tracks: starter, pro and enterprise. The starter is for small businesses, the pro is aimed at medium-sized businesses, and the enterprise is for larger organisations. Though they work with diverse industries, they seem to have a particular inclination towards the real estate sector. Their certification process seems to be one of the few sustainability accreditation processes where you receive a lot of help through the process directly from the certification body.
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