Look for the eco-label

New database seeks to make sense out of all the green labels and claims that consumers and businesses must consider.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Last week, I received a brief item from the Sustainable Solutions Corporation, trumpeting the fact that they had just spun out their corporate sustainability certification division, GreenCircle Certified.

GreenCircle has been set up to help "substantiate" corporate sustainability claims surrounding recycled and renewable content in products, closed loop product lifecycles, sustainable manufacturing processes, carbon footprint proclamations, and renewable energy use.

The idea -- a very valid one -- is that more consumers and business partners need or want some sort of third-party blessing that a particular claim is valid. The challenge now is the fact that there are literally dozens of different green business or green product labels that we all have to navigate in our quest to become better environmental citizens.

The World Resources Insitute and Big Room think they have come up with a way to help: A new online database that will help consumers and businesses look at the various enviro-certifications available for products.

The 2010 Global Ecolabel Monitor looks at 311 different lables across 42 countries. Of that number, approximately 113 participated in a report that analyzes what goes into a particular certification. In a press release announcing the database, Big Room Co-founder says: "Some ecolabels are regionally specific while others are global, and some have stricter criteria than others. There is a real need for improvement in transparency and accountability along with high quality information that's standardized and comparable worldwide."

Here's an example of one of the sub-lists: a directory of green technology-specific programs focused on North America.

One key finding: the labels that are organized and run by non-profit organizations generally have more rigorous requirements than those that might, for example, be created by a specific company. On the not-so-great side, fewer than one-third of the labels listed are actively considering and surveying against the environment or social impacts of their own certification.

This resource is great for consumers, of course, because it helps consolidate all the various green information about a particular product or product category. But it also is good for businesses that are interested in knowing where they (or a potential business partner) stand.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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