Eco-friendly Certifications and What They Mean
Consumers have spoken and they want eco-friendly products. That includes the packaging of their takeaway food. They look for certified products and read labels, check company profiles online, and quite often base their loyalty to businesses on whether or not they use eco-friendly, compostable, biodegradable, and sustainable products.
So in order to inform and ultimately gain the trust of the consumer, companies have begun using labels on packaging to let them know about the materials and practices of the manufacturers.
So what are these certifications, who performs the tests that certify the materials used, and what exactly do they mean?
Tested and Certified
Signs, symbols, stamps and seals of approval, some have become very recognizable.
It makes people feel good about what they are buying and ultimately what happens to it after it is discarded when they see them. They look for these trusted symbols that assure them of their contributions in taking care of the planet.
These marks given to products are verifications of procedures, of testing that has been performed,and who has done the testing. Testing of not only the materials used in the manufacturing but, how it was produced, how it was harvested and how it will affect the environment post use. All of this can be conveyed through a symbol as simple as a leaf.
Was it sourced from a sustainable product?
Is it recyclable?
Is it compostable and what bin should it go in?
Internationally recognized stamps, certifying that a set of standards and processes has been followed and rules adhered to.
Let’s look at a few of these.
Certifications and Organizations
Compostable, sustainable, green, wildlife-friendly, chemical free, the list goes on and on.
Using misleading labels has become an issue with dubious marketing and pretend eco-friendly seals of approval trying to snatch up consumers by misleading them.
Greenwashing is a term that has been coined to call out the imposters, but how can you know who is trustworthy?
There has to be a way to safeguard against a company just throwing a label on their product and calling it green, or eco-friendly, or sustainable.
That’s where legitimate and vetted organizations have come to the rescue of environmentally conscious consumers.
Consumers want a degree of hope in the fact that trustworthy organizations exist and have put in the work to test products and have undergone third-party reviews assuring that the certification label that goes on them is legit.
The American Society for Testing and Materials
“Currently known as ASTM International, “American Society for Testing and Materials”, ASTM is a developer of international voluntary consensus standards. ASTM standards are developed by committees of relevant industry professionals who meet regularly in an open and transparent process to deliver standards, test methods, specifications, guides, and practices.”
ASTM sets the guidelines and processes for testing compostability, sustainability, chemical free, etc.
So when we see labels like the BPI label below, you know that this product, the materials, and the manufacturing process have followed the standards that ASTM has suggested.
The Biodegradable Products Institute
“The symbol is designed for use on products and packages. Now consumers, composters, waste haulers, and officials can easily distinguish those plastic products designed to biodegrade quickly, completely, and safely, when composted in well-run municipal and commercial facilities. No plastic residues will be left behind to destroy the value of the finished compost.”
Another label you might want to look for is the TUV certification label.
TUV is short for Technischer Überwachungsverein which in German means Technical Inspection Association.
Internationally known and accepted in The US (TÜV Rheinland of North America), the TUV label will let you know if the plastic used in the manufacturing process needs an industrial compost facility or if it can be composted at home.
It’s the little things that turn out to be the big things. Knowing if something can be home composted or needs industrial composting makes a huge difference.
The Forest Stewardship Council
It’s not only plastic products but paper products as well that you can find certification labels on.
The Forest Stewardship Council label ( FSC) reassures consumers that forest practices that are sustainable and eco-friendly have been followed and requirements have been met concerning wood sources, and environmental practices in sourcing of material used.
The FSC takes into consideration, forest management, biological biodiversity, local economical impact, and sustained viability of the materials used.
Certified and Tested
Quality, convenience, usability, and consciousness are drivers in what moves consumers to make purchase decisions, and labels are allowing them to have a more accessible means to know what it is they are buying, and how their decision impacts the planet.