Certifications and Standards: Why are they useful?
Certifications and standards are becoming popular by the minute. Customers actively look for them as a reassurance that third-party entities tested the products.
They can push companies to become more sustainable and ethic in this ever-changing environment. They are also a tool that can prevent greenwashing, that is the disinformation created by an organization to present an environmentally responsible public image. In fact, certifications can raise awareness and transparency related to manufacturing and material sourcing, but also related to fair practices.
There are numerous certifications and standards available to companies. In general, they can be divided by area of interest: environment protection, fair trade practices, animal welfare, and quality assurance. Here we listed four of the most famous, one per area of interest.
B CORPORATION. One of the most trusted, it uses the triple-bottom-line approach: it ensures that People, Planet and Profits go hand-in-hand with the business. The certified companies are expected to meet rigorous social, environmental and transparency standards. The certification requires to score a minimum of 80/200 points. Every three years the company has to be recertified by The B Lab, that is the non-profit organization that controls the B Corp certification.
FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION. Fairtrade is a global movement that ensures worker’s right and fair labor practices. It concentrates also on responsible land management, from the producer to the product. In order to become more ethical, the company needs to focus on restructuring its business model. This also includes making sure they are taking responsibility for the people that participate in the making of their product. In order to get the certificate, companies must contact one of the different private auditors certified by the fair trade organization. Since 1998, the foundation has protected millions of lives in 45 countries.
RESPONSIBLE WOOL STANDARD. The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is an independent, voluntary standard that recognizes the best practices of farmers. It ensures that wool comes from sheep treated responsibly, but also from farms with a progressive management of the land. The certification ensures that farms treat sheep with respect to their Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from injury, and disease; to express normal and natural behavior; and freedom from fear and distress). It also ensures best practices in the management and protection of the land. The standard is globally applicable to all breeds of sheep; mulesing is strictly prohibited.
WOOLMARK. The Woolmark licensing program is a quality assurance and product certification program for wool textiles. The program includes indipendent tests on yarns, fabrics and garments, in order to qualify them for the Woolmark certification. Tests include: the verification of the wool content of the product; the colour fastness to light and liquid; durability and wash testing. The benefits that brands can gain from the certification are: customer satisfaction; independent quality assurance and authentication; a traceable supply chain; technical support on product development; support in staff development and training.
Sources: SupplyCompass; Compare Ethics; RWS.