CarbonFree Product Certification: Creating Brand Differentiation, Action on Global Warming

CarbonFree Product Certification: Creating Brand Differentiation, Action on Global Warming

Emily Pugliese is a senior climate change specialist with Carbonfund.org and can be contacted at [email protected].

Today's consumers are demanding transparent, credible and readily accessible information about the environmental impact of the products they buy. Carbonfund.org responded to this growing demand for eco-friendly products by creating the first label in the U.S. for carbon-neutral products - CarbonFree Certified - which distinguishes them and expresses the business's commitment to the environment and fighting global warming.

The CarbonFree label brings carbon neutrality, responsibility and action on global warming to the heart of a business, its products and customers. This can help increase sales, profits and the value of a brand, as we are already seeing in the label.

CarbonFree Certified products undergo an intensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) to calculate the emissions resulting from each phase in the life of the product including manufacturing, shipping and usage. The LCA is done using Carbonfund.org's CarbonFree Product Certification Carbon Footprint Protocol, which was prepared to the highest standards as a joint effort with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. The entire certification process, from start to finish, takes about four months to complete, depending on the complexity of the product.

After the LCA is performed, a company registers their product with Carbonfund.org, agreeing to offset the carbon footprint associated with the product based on actual sales. Offsetting is performed quarterly, and products are reviewed and certification is renewed annually.

Renewal fees are reduced for companies that lower a product's footprint by at least 10 percent. The LCA provides a look into where companies can reduce emissions and waste related to products, in turn cutting costs.

Companies can choose from a range of third-party validated carbon offset projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation, or a mix of different projects.

Carbonfund.org helps promote CarbonFree Certified Product to targeted consumers, and provides marketing support through custom web pages on Carbonfund.org's website, promotional assistance and use of the CarbonFree Certified Label.

In the past year, Carbonfund.org has certified products of eight different brands, with more to launch in the coming months. Some of the certified products include Motorola's MOTO W233 Renew cellular phone, Grounds for Change coffee, Tandus floor coverings, Florida Crystals sugar (a subsidiary of Domino Foods) and Tropical Traders honey.

Gary Black, director of marketing strategy at Florida Crystals, explains why his company chose to pursue CarbonFree Product Certification: “As a pioneer in sustainable practices, at Florida Crystals, we've been producing clean, renewable energy from our sugar cane fiber for more than a decade and were particularly attracted to the CarbonFree Product Certification because it specifically addresses curbing global warming and allows us to demonstrate our dedication to minimizing our carbon footprint.”  

Customers have responded favorably, as have sales of CarbonFree Certified products. Kelsey Marshall, co-founder of Grounds for Change, said, “The CarbonFree Product Certification has had a positive impact on sales and, more importantly in my mind, since the certification we have seen an increase in overall customer retention and satisfaction.”

MOTO W233 Renew, the world's first carbon-neutral mobile phone, is made from plastics that contain recycled water bottles and has a 100 percent recyclable housing. Motorola, like other partners, also gains the opportunity to support and promote carbon-friendly projects to customers. Among the projects Motorola is supporting is Carbonfund.org's Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Reforestation in Louisiana, which will sequester more than 600,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and restore one of the most important wetland habitats for an estimated 400 species.  

No matter the size of the business, or the type of product, the CarbonFree Certified Label enables businesses to give their customers the environmentally responsible products they are demanding while increasing the bottom line by increasing sales, profits, customer retention and brand differentiation.