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Our Use of Eco-Labels Is Set to Soar – For Products, Brands ... and People?

September 21, 2016

Our Use of Eco-Labels Is Set to Soar – For Products, Brands ... and People?

September 21, 2016
by Tom Idle

Certification, standards and labels have long provided an effective mechanism for raising awareness around a range of sustainability issues – from deforestation and overfishing, to carbon reduction and energy efficiency. Standards such as Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance (RA) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) offer a useful framework to help organisations make the right decisions. With more and more businesses committing to obtain 100 percent of their commodity supply from certified sustainable sources, for example, they can be comfortable in the knowledge that trusted standards will make it clear as to what is expected of them if they want to become more sustainable, resilient and successful businesses.

And these mechanisms – which see more and more businesses working with social and environmental NGOs – have been replicated many times and used for decades, with relative success. The FSC has 850 members and has so far certified more than 190 million hectares of forests in 82 countries; RA claims to have 125 million acres of land under sustainable management and has helped to train 1.4m farmers in better agricultural techniques.

However, the use of standards and their associated labels has had its detractors, with many commentators bemoaning the fact that the creation of consumer-driven certified products and services has its limitations. Take the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for example, an organisation that has been in existence since 2004. In that time it has worked tirelessly to encourage companies to sign up to meet its set criteria of what it defines as best practice. Its 2,000+ members represent 40 percent of the global palm oil sector. And yet just 17 percent – 11.37 million tonnes – of the world’s palm oil is currently certified under the RSPO system.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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