New Report Offers Tips for Truthful, Successful Eco-Labeling

New Report Offers Tips for Truthful, Successful Eco-Labeling

The growth of green labels on products and companies of all kinds can be seen as a positive step, an increasing awareness and concern about the environment among businesses and consumers alike. But with this growth has come confusion and a lack of trust among shoppers who are suddenly inundated with similar-looking options for "green" products.

Aiming to focus companies' efforts on backing up the environmental claims of products is the goal of a report just released by Business for Social Responsibility and Forum for the Future. The report, entitled "Eco-promising: communicating the environmental credentials of your products and services," offers a look at the past, present and future of green labeling schemes, and suggests ways that companies can live up to the green promises .

The report answers the questions of why companies should communicate the benefits of their products as well as laying out a how-to for companies just starting out.

Among the benefits of eco-promises, according to the report, are growing the sales of products, enhancing a company's reputation, improving how it addresses risk and embraces opportunities, and shaping existing or upcoming regulations that might affect a company's products.

In order to make effective and achievable eco-promises, the report lays out several obstacles that companies face to achieving success. Notable on the list is the fact that consumers are either confused by claims made on product labels, as well as the pervasive belief that customers have the time or inclination to understand often-complex issues behind eco-labels. But the report also points out that perceptions of greenwashing have tainted labeling efforts, and that working toward a specific, well-established eco-certification scheme can limit innovation or progress toward improving or developing new schemes.

Knowing the life-cycle impacts of your products is the first step to success, according to the report's authors. Without detailed knowledge of how a product affects the environment from manufacture to recycling, it is difficult for a company to be able to make a certifiable claim on how green that product is. Other ingredients in the recipe for success laid out in the report are transparency, independent verification using a wider environmental context to make claims.

The full report is availble for download from GreenBiz. For more information, visit BSR.org and ForumForTheFuture.org.uk.
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