Defining what’s credible – ISEAL launches consultation on “Credibility Principles”

Posted 6 September 2012 by Trevor Bowden to Ecolabel News | No Comments |

ISEAL Alliance – an alliance of many of the world’s leading sustainability standards systems – is creating a set of “Credibility Principles” for voluntary standards. Ecolabel Index is participating in this process, and our colleague Anastasia O’Rourke is honored to be on the Credibility Principles Steering Committee.

This video gives an overview of ISEAL’s objectives with the Principles:

Credibility Principles Consultation from ISEAL Alliance on Vimeo.

Some of the topics under consideration include the degree to which a standard and or ecolabel should insist on 3rd party verification, and whether or not stakeholders have the ability to participate in the setting of the standard. The draft Credibility Principles are open for consultation through December 7 2012.

A global consultation process has been launched, and the next meeting is in Washington, DC on October 9 2012. Broad participation from the standards community is welcome, with future consultations planned for São Paulo, London, Beijing and Delhi.

P&G and Green Good Housekeeping

Posted 31 August 2012 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News | No Comments |

P&G – the  largest consumer packaged goods company in the world today – announced that they have selected the Green Good Housekeeping Seal for some of its major brands. So far, two big products have earned the green label – Pampers Cruisers diapers for toddlers and Tide Coldwater Laundry Detergent.

This is in addition to P&G’s Future Friendly label which is a self-designated label for P&G products that “deliver a meaningful environmental benefit in one or more of the following categories: energy, water or waste” and that “…these reductions and environmental benefits must be supported by sound, transparent science and substantiated data.”

One of the reasons the Green Good Housekeeping Seal was chosen was that consumers recognize the label, apparently.

We suspect it’s also a differentiation strategy – after all, only companies who advertise in Good Housekeeping can apply for the label, and only those who also pass the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval can go for the green version.

For non-American audiences, you might be interested to know that Good Housekeeping Magazine (owned by Hearst) has been around since 1885 (yes, that’s 1885!) and that since 1909 it has offered a “Seal of Approval” guaranteeing the products with a warrantee that: “If any product that bears our Seal or is advertised in this issue* (with certain exceptions) proves to be defective within two years from the date it was first sold to a consumer by an authorized retailer, we, Good Housekeeping, will replace or repair the product or refund the purchase price.” As such, the green “Seal of Approval” certainly ticks at least some of the credibility boxes with consumers.

But it does beg the question as to whether the environmental performance requirements of the green Seal of Approval will be similarly backed up in the same way by either Good Housekeeping, or companies like P&G. Perhaps the more interesting question is: Would it even be possible to do so?

Let’s take paper-products as an example. The Green Good Housekeeping Seal’s Criteria for Paper Goods states that paper fibre must be from a certified sustainable source. But what certification? And what standards are recognized? Depending on the answer to that, you will get a different ability to actually trace back the source and know where it came from.  Those of us who have exposure to diapers on a daily basis have a pretty good idea of what is “in” a diaper at the end of its life (apologies)…but as for knowing what is made from, who knows?

Presumably P&G knows the answer to that question using its Supplier Sustainability Scorecard . Perhaps they might also let us consumers know too?


How 2 Recycle – telling it like it is

Posted 30 August 2012 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News | No Comments |

A new label from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition run by GreenBlue has launched, called How 2 Recycle. It pretty much tells you exactly that – how to recycle – a vast improvement on the traditional numbered recycling logo which isn’t terrible instructive (unless you happen to know what that 1 – PETE is recyclable and often is done so where you are living.)

Making it clearer is  a worthy cause indeed, now let’s look at whether it lives up to its promise.

The label tells you what is the packaging component being referred to (think box, or film), what is the material (plastic, paper, aluminum) and where to put it, and then shows the recycling icon – indicating “recyclability”. So you could have, for example, a label that has the recycling logo crossed out – as that material cannot be. Not sure what manufacturers will go for that, but you never know.

Whether a material IS in fact recycled in a given region is the next question, because even if in theory it could be, we all know that it doesn’t necessarily mean that its done in practice. The solution proposed here is for a link to the website where you can look that up. We can only surmise that that will be the harder part to populate – data-wise as right now they send you on to other links where you can look it up. Any grantors want to fund that part? It could be very cool to have an app.

Turns out that it is based on a British system launched by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) with support from the government-backed Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in March 2009.


New sustainability standard for services launched

Posted 3 April 2012 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News | No Comments |

A new sustainability standard for services was launched today by NSF – NSF P391:General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Services and Service Providers.

It will help service providers in the US respond to the sustainability requirements of large purchasers, such as US General Services Administration (GSA) who are obliged by White House Executive Order 13514 (PDF) to become greener purchasers. Brennan Conaway from GSA states “As a protocol that is applicable to all service provider types and sectors, NSF P391 could be used to support our customers by identifying services that comply with E.O. 13514”.

NSF P391 evaluates the sustainability of a service provider in three key areas: Environment impact – energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;  Labor impact – health and safety, employment practices; and  Social responsibility impact – community assessment.

Organizations can earn NSF P391 certification at the Conformant, Silver, Gold or Platinum level; and once certified, can display the NSF Sustainability Certified Mark in their advertising and marketing.

All kinds of services can apply to meet the new standard.; and we can predict that those selling to the Fed’s will be the first in line.