A recent study done by Deloitte examines the current ecolabeling sector and provides explanations of how companies make decisions regarding certification and ecolabeling use. They interviewed over a dozen senior sustainability executives at a number of multinationals to get a clear picture of the corporate motivations behind certifications and ecolabeling.
-Many companies use them to maintain market share in various US states whose purchasing guidelines require certification.
-Others achieve them so they can win large institutional contracts.
-Some use them as a way raise their sustainability profile and green their supply chains.
-Others pursue labels that align with their brand and promote the company’s image.
While there are many reasons to pursue certification and ecolabeling, many executives expressed frustration with the number of labels and standards, as they lead to consumer confusion. This has caused some companies to decide not to proceed with certification while others are very wary of which labels and certifiers they choose to work with. A complete list of the qualities and preferences of desirable certifiers is in the GreenBiz article.
Currently the greatest demand for certification is in the B2B space, where companies are more aware of the advantages of greening their organization. However, moving forward Deloitte is predicting a shift from to the B2C space in the United States as consumers gradually shift their preferences towards sustainable products.
A number of executives also expressed interest in alternate methods of driving sustainability and marketing those efforts. For example a business could launch an educational campaign around sustainability products for their stakeholders or create an internal standard that governs the decisions made in their supply chain. Another interesting example is companies that achieve ecolabel certification but do not display the label, because they feel it lacks consumer awareness. While ecolabels and certification schemes are certainly growing, there is still no universally successful way to communicate green efforts to consumers and experimentation is sure to continue.