Getting a business green-certified can be resource-intensive, so business owners and sustainability executives should make sure the eco label they're pursuing is the best fit.
As the owner of a small media and e-commerce company that not only has earned green certification but also relies on eco labels to select quality products for its retail business, I’m happy to share my lessons learned about the different labels out there and the process of getting certified.
Some key questions to ask are: Which labels are most reputable and unbiased? How “independent” is the third party issuing the eco label? Does it have a vested interest the products being certified?
As a business owner or sustainability executive spearheading this effort, you'll need to make three primary decisions about which eco label -- or labels -- you want to obtain: whether the eco label is general or industry specific; what type of organization is the issuing party; and whether the label/certification applies to the entire company or just specific products.
General vs. industry specific
This decision depends on whether your company carries a wide range of products or if it is a manufacturer in a specific industry. Eco labels that cover a general range of products include Green Seal, Cradle to Cradle, Green America and EcoLogo.
Since my company, EcoPlum, is a retailer carrying eco friendly products from a range of industries, we elected to pursue the Green America certification. Manufacturers, though, should get certified by the “experts” in their field. So if your company makes personal care products, for example, then your products should be listed in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Likewise, car manufacturers will want to be listed favorably in EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide; makers of industrial and household cleaners may want to pursue the USDA Biopreferred seal of approval; and carpet manufacturers should be evaluated by FloorScore. For a more comprehensive list of eco labels by industry, please see this guide to eco labels.
Next page: How do you choose a certifier?