ekobai.com RSS feed ekobai - the home of certified companies (tm) http://www.ekobai.com/rss/ Fri, 30 Oct 2020 18:57:39 UTC Fri, 30 Oct 2020 18:57:39 UTC Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (Jan 2015) Summary:  Top Level Domain vendors .eco and .green prepare to marketing their domains to the sustainability community in 2015; developments in sustainable palm oil; and is conflict gold certification coming?

Sustainability Top Level Domains (TLD): In the last few years, ICANN, the international body which decides who can issue top level domains like .com, .org and .info has added several hundred so called "TLD"s to the global roster.  There are now 735 active ones in a variety of languages.  Not surprisingly, the sustainability movement has acted to gain TLDs of its own.   To create value, users of sustainability TLDs need to demonstrate a level of commitment to the chosen area.  For example the organic community has .organic  and users must show some activities related to the organic movement.  Another general TLD, .green  appears to be more general with no specific requirements but a portion of the administering company's sales going to environmental projects.  .eco  is a TLD years in the making and which now has 60 leading environmental groups as supporters.   Again, precise requirements for using a .eco have not been clarified.  It is likely both will compete in the sustainability TLD space when both go on sale early in 2015.

Sustainable Palm Oil Update: The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil  held its annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur where it announced that close to 20% of global production of palm oil adheres to its standards.  Many leading European buyers like Unilever and Nestle have pledged to use only RSPO-certified product in their supply chains.  However, Indonesia has challenged the RSPO certification scheme by introducing its own certification program called Indonesia Sustainable Palm oil (ISPO) in 2011, and Malaysia will follow next year with its own certification mechanism called Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO).  The two countries supply 85% of global production and are eyeing growing markets in China and Asia where RSPO is not so entrenched.  Meanwhile on the ground level, US activist group the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is running a campaign aimed at preserving "the last place on earth", a region in northern Sumatra.  The campaign names a leading Singapore palm oil producer Musim Mas who is reported by eco-business.com to have suspended supplies from the region in question pending investigation.

Conflict Gold Certification Coming?   The Kimberly Process  began in 2000 as an attempt to stop the trade in conflict diamonds.  An associated certification scheme is in place for use by the jewelry industry.  Now it has been reported  major U.S. jewellery companies and retailers have started to take substantive steps to eliminate the presence of “conflict gold” from their supply chains.  Rights advocates, backed by the United Nations, have been warning for years that gold mining revenues are funding warlords and militia groups operating in the Great Lakes region of Africa, particularly in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).   The concern was triggered by a report issued by human rights and celebrity-backed group Enough Project, specifically naming US firms Tiffany and Signet. 

GMO Pressure for Europe: Organic Market Info reports on new legislation which will allow EU member states to restrict crops containing GMOs without an EU wide mandate.  " The approved text would entitle member states to pass legally binding acts restricting or prohibiting the cultivation of GMO crops even after they have been authorised at EU level. The new rules would allow member states to ban GMOs stating environmental policy objectives as a justification. These objectives would relate to environmental impacts other than the risks to health and environment assessed during the scientific risk assessment."

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/174/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-jan-2015/ 174 Sat, 27 Dec 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (Oct 2014) Keywords:  Wholefoods, Collectively.org, Green Seal, Responsibly Grown

Summary:  Organic retailing giant Wholefoods creates its new eco-label; and we report on the use of standards in South Africa's Woolworths.  Corporate giants collaborate on a sustainability lifestyles site Collectively.org

Wholefoods in Own Eco Standard Move: Wholefoods is by far the world's leading retailers of organic produce.  In October this year it announced a new scheme for rating products and suppliers, called Responsibly Grown.  The obvious question for organic growers is "why a new system when we are already organic-certified?".  Wholefood states " The Responsibly Grown rating system was created to complement, not replace, existing labels on produce and flowers.  Organic produce will continue to be labeled in our stores. Responsibly Grown gives organic growers the opportunity to document achievement in additional areas such as energy, water and waste.  The Responsibly Grown rating system rewards growers for the work they have done to earn certifications by leading social and environmental organizations, including Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest and Demeter Biodynamic. It also recognizes growers who go beyond the requirements for existing certifications."  Questions remain as to how existing organic and eco labels will co-exist on products on the shelves of Wholefoods stores.  Certainly the consumer's tolerance for multi-labeled products is limited.

 At South Africa's Woolworths: Woolworths is one of South Africa's leading retailers.  ISEAL Alliance provided an insight into the retailer's use of sustainability standards in its operating.  " The company has made some major commitments to sustainable sourcing as part of its aim to “sell products that cause the minimum of harm to the natural world in the way they are made,” including engaging with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to ensure that its wild-caught seafood comes from sustainable fisheries, as well as with Fairtrade and UTZ Certified to ensure that its coffee and cocoa are traceable and harvested using good practices. Woolworths was also the first African retailer to strike a broad, multi-faceted partnership with an environmental NGO (WWF-South Africa) in order to be certain that its sustainability efforts are on the right track."

Corporate Giants Push for Sustainable Consumerism: Some leading "companies led by BT Group, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola Co., Marks & Spencer and Unilever believes mainstream media coverage of sustainable consumer lifestyles is too subdued.", according to Greenbiz .  Via group Forum for the Future, the companies have funded a website Collectively which aims to graphically illustrate sustainable lifestyles.

The Story of an Eco Label: The history of eco labels is mixed with many failing to gain critical mass (yet remain alive) while others like Fairtrade and FSC have taken off with global regocnition.  Greenbiz reports on one of the more established eco labels, Green Seal.  The article notes that the label has not been able to catch a critical mass of consumer recognition and now seeks B2B markets - business to business and business to government.   Aside from the few labels (FLO, MSC, FSC) - this appears to have become the focus of most sustainability labels at present.


http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/173/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-oct-2014/ 173 Wed, 22 Oct 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (Sept 2014) Summary:  Austerity aside, Italian organic markets are booming; a German wool supplier makes use of an ethical label to gain market share; Living Wage standard coming? and which US demographic uses eco-labels.

Organic Markets in Focus - Italy: Austerity and economic stagnation do not appear to have harmed Italy's organic markets.  Research firm SANA reports a 60% increase 2014 compared to 2013 so far.  " There were 52,383 certified organic operators in Italy on 31 December 2013 - an overall increase of 5.4% on 2012. Organic land has increased to 1,317,177 hectares, with an overall growth of 12.8% over 2012. Domestic consumption, according to figures released by the Ministry, collected by the ISMEA/GFK-Eurisko Family Panel in the first five months of 2014 show a positive trend."

Update on the Angora Wool Market:  Last year we reported on how a video depicting screaming Angora rabbits being plucked for their fur almost destroyed the market for Angora products as leading retailers removed all products from their shelves.  Targeted were the Chinese suppliers of the fur.  European suppliers have stepped up and taken advantage of what they claim is more responsible harvesting of the rabbit fur.  Chief among them is German supplier Naturfasern who claim to supply products in full compliance with European animal welfare standards, and have created a standard for the fur, Caregora.  This is a prime example of an extremely narrow social/ethics issue giving rise to a very specific standard.

Living Wage Update: The move towards a global benchmark or standard on the Living Wage is moving forward with the issuance of benchmarks for three emerging markets - South Africa, Dominican and Malawi, ISEAL reports .   " The collaboration between sustainability standards on living wage has taken a major step forward with the release of living wage benchmarks for rural South Africa, Dominican Republic and Malawi. This marks the start of a collective effort to estimate living wages for the countries in which these standards work and to strengthen the role of standards and certification in supporting wage growth globally."

Time for Eco Labels?: GreenBiz reports on which demographic in the United States uses eco labels and other third party certifications to help them shop and make judgements of companies. " They are affluent and educated. In fact, 33 percent of Americans with household incomes of $75,000-plus rely on third-party certifications, and 39 percent of those with a graduate/professional degree do. They also skew older, with one-third of the over-55 crowd picking this option." 

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/172/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-sept-2014/ 172 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco labels and markets (July 2014) Summary:  Frustration among sustainable brands to gain traction has been put down to the Green Gap; another account of the over-abundance of eco-labels, and moves to globally standardize GMO-free and the "living wage" issue.

The Green Gap Intention vs. Behaviour: Much is made of the so called "Green Gap" between what consumers in survey say they regards to concern on environmental issues and how they actually behave in consumption choices.  Leading ad agency Ogilvy & Mather describes in its research Mainstream Green various segments of the population in the US and China and how to reach them with sustainable marketing.   CSR consultant Brendan May has a rather more negative view and advises giving up on trying to change consumer behaviour with regards to green issues .    And another useful contribution on this subject, also from GreenBiz.

The Wild West of Eco-Labels: An informative narrative from the Guardian Sustainable Business  that points to the dizzying array of eco and organic labels attached to products.  Food have the most labels with eggs have the most standards and labels attached - " Cage-free or free-range? Free-roaming or free-farmed? Grass-fed, vegetarian-fed or whole grain-fed? Antibiotic-free, biodynamic, hormone-free, irradiated, natural, organic or pasteurised."   This zoo of green labels has not gone unnoticed by the US government - the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 reissued its Green Guides aimed at green marketing claims.

Digital Sustainability - Another Case: The power of digital media and the mobile App revolution in environmental and sustainability issues continues.  Google has partnered with UK food retailer Sainsbury's Food Rescue scheme .  Sainsbury's Food Rescue fuses mobile voice recognition technology with recipe inspiration to give users practical help and advice on using up ingredients that would otherwise be forgotten about and go to waste.  

Global Approach to GMO:  A key trend in sustainability and health related food labelling in the last few years has been the growing drive to remove genetically modified organisms from the food chain (GMO).    A global federation of 60 GMO related groups worldwide has now been formed, under the guise of the Global GMO Free Coalition, which claims to represent over 4.5 million people through its partner members.  " The Global GMO Free Coalition, with over 60 partner organizations, is the first globally coordinated network to take on the genetically modified food and crop industry head on in both the media and in public and government advocacy areas. The aim of the coalition is to cut through biotech industry propaganda and to provide independent information that leads to responsible actions from food regulatory bodies in countries worldwide."   A summary of the status of GMO labeling and legislation can be found here.

Living Wage to be part of Standards?: Living wage has been garnering global attention as wage earners in many sectors struggle to ensure their families can meet basic needs, as wage and income inequalities grow, and it becomes increasingly clear that national minimum wages are often insufficient to deliver decent standards of living or are simply not enforced.   Campaigns like Living Wage UK  are being set up to drive the issue, which also has been part of social standards like SA 8000 and ILO but not singled out in this way.   ISEAL Alliance reports  that a group of standards bodies - Fairtrade International, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Forest Stewardship Council, GoodWeave and Social Accountability International. are looking at how to incorporate the living wage concept into their standards.

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/171/ekobai-newsletter-eco-labels-and-markets-july-2014/ 171 Fri, 04 Jul 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Green Marketing - Why the Philippines is the best place to start Summary

There are probably around a million Google searches (30% in the US) per month relating to climate change with the most commonly typed phrase being "global warming" (500,000 searches/month).  This compares favorably with the phrase "car insurance" which registers 800,000 monthly searches.  Worldwide, accounting for density of Web users, the island nations most threatened by climate change score the most highly with Fiji, the Philippines and Mauritius top.  Sadly, interest in the subject overall around the English language Web world, as measured by Google search, is declining and is now 80% down from the 2007 peak.



A lot of groups are interested in how the citizens of the world perceive environmental issues.  Corporations pitching "green" products want to know exactly how to promote their products/services and at what price point.  Environmental NGOs are keen to enlist support from large numbers of people and politicians want to make sure they attract their votes.   This information has proved difficult to pinpoint.  While a recent Gallop Poll  indicated that climate change is low on the list of priorities for US citizens, a Pew Research report from 2013 indicated a high level of concern with the issue, with the concern slightly higher in Asia and South America.

One means of determining how the world is thinking is to analyse Google searches.  This has been used, for example, by governments and cities to predict where flu outbreaks may occur by studying patterns of certain search phrases.   For environmental terms interest around the world appears to be robust as the sample shows, all data April 2014.


Environmental search phrase

Number of Monthly Global Google Searches

Other Comparable search phrases

Number of Monthly Global Google Searches

global warming


car insurance


climate change


house prices


water pollution


child labor


air pollution






al qaeda



Clearly other languages, phrases and search engines would need to be analysed as well as the geographic spread, to gain useful marketing information.  Taking the specific issue of climate change, its clear the preferred term in English is in fact "global warming".  Looking closer at the 450,000 monthly searches, 30% are in the US and 12% in the United Kingdom, which might be expected given their developed world status and use of English language.  However, some other high scorers for the use of the search term "global warming" are surprising - India represents 16% and the Philippines 6%, although India has the 3rd largest population of internet users in the world at 151 million, most of them English speakers

The case of the Philippines is more interesting however.  It ranks number 14 in the world in terms of Internet users, well below the UK and is considered a developing nation.  Like India, however it citizens have suffered greatly recently in the wake of natural disasters which the media commonly associates with global warming, such as the devastating Typhoon Yolanda which hit the Philippines in November 2013.

Google Trends  allows a more general comparison of search trends around the world.  Its results are normalised in terms of relative population of internet users and the top seven ranking for the term "global warming" is revealing: Fiji, Philippines, India, South Africa, Mauritius, Maldives, Trinidad and Tobago.  Neither the US nor the UK make the top ten and both register less than 25% of the search volume compared to some of the threatened island nations in the list.  As a country impacted by a range of environmental woes, the Philippines scores highly on other search phrases.  The correlation between environmental issue (as a search phrase) and the top-volume country appears to show a strong correlation between the severity of the issue affecting citizens there, as would be expected.


Search phrase

Countries with Highest

Google Search Volume, May 2014

global warming

Fiji, Philippines, India


Ethiopia, Jamaica, Cambodia

water pollution

India, South Africa, Philippines

air pollution

Philippines, India


UK, Ireland, United States

nuclear waste

Australia, United States, Canada

hazardous waste

United States, Philippines, Canada

child labor

Lebanon, United States, Philippines

contaminated water

South Africa, United States, Philippines

While interesting, Google data only goes so far - it provides no indication of motivation or any subsequent action.  Further, green marketers and campaigners have their work cut out for them.  Use of the term "global warming" (and "climate change") peaked in 2007 and has been declining since.  Globally it is now only 20% of the 2007 search volume.....


- analysis from ekobai.com, for more info contact dtanner@ekobai.com


http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/170/green-marketing-why-the-philippines-is-the-best-place-to-start/ 170 Wed, 04 Jun 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (May 2014) Summary:  Bangladesh gets a boost from a socially motivated investor, MSC highlights a 20% sales increase in its labeled goods and embarks on certifying herrings.  Some info on organic markets and labeling.

Bangladesh Gets Textiles CapitalTau Investment Management  slogan is "Capitalist Solutions to Capitalism's Failures".  The company has announced a US$200 million investment into Bangladesh's garment industry, struggling with its reputation since the now notorious building collapse of a factory in 2012.  The company states: "Modernisation and transformation of the country's apparel industries will be the prime focus...we want to work with the bigger players and they must be hyper compliant."  

MSC Talks About Growth & Herrings:  The Marine Stewardship Council  released its latest market figures at the Seafood Expo Global 2014 in Brussels.  " Nicolas Guichoux, Global Commercial Director, revealed new data at the MSC's annual Global Commercial Network meeting that showed an annual rise in MSC certified products of 21% to September 2013 and a fivefold increase in four years."   Separately the MSC is embarking on the first stage of certification assessment of the herring industry

Organic Supply Chains: An interesting report on how leading players in the organic sector are driving sustainability chain through their supply chains.  Based on data analysed by the Sustainable Food Trade Association.

and the Future of Organic Labels: From the same source a highly intelligent analysis of the future of labeling focusing on credibility given the plethora of free form self declaration labels in existance.


http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/169/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-may-2014/ 169 Thu, 29 May 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (April 2014) Summary:  We report on an ILO funded database of Cambodian suppliers, new standards on organic cotton, water usage and sustainable biomaterials (sugar, palm oil), and how FSC impacts the Congo forestry sector.

New Database for Cambodian Factories: Better Factories Cambodia is a US/Cambodia initiative, backed by the International Labor Organization (ILO) whose mission is as follows: "Better Factories Cambodia monitors factories, trains management and workers, and provides guidance and advice on factory improvements that help enterprises preserve profits while respecting workers' rights."   The group has launched a Transparency Database which it hopes will build the reputation of Cambodia as an ethical sourcing destination. 

GOTS Version 4.0 Out: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) International Working Group has announced Version 4.0 of its standard for the processing of textiles made from certified organic fibers. GOTS' core provisions such as the 70 % minimum content of certified organic fibres, bans on GMO, nanotechnology and carcinogenic substances have been maintained. There are modified rules on the conventional 'additional fibre materials': These now may consist of regenerated, respective synthetic fibres - up to 30 % - provided they are environmentally improved and certified. Other changes include the bans on virgin polyester and of angora (recently in the headlines due to animal cruelty concerns).

Scaling Up Bio-materials certification: The ISEAL Alliance reports on a collaboration between the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials and Bonsucro sustainability standards due to the benefits of existing overlap and existing scale up opportunities. 

WWF Report on FSC in Congo: A report conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and funded by the WWF shows the impacts of certification on the logging sector in the Congo. The study provides strong independent validation of the positive social impacts that sustainability standards can bring.   

Standard for Water Usage Released: The Alliance for Water Stewardship  has finally released its multi-stakeholder backed standard for water usage, applicable to industrial users and water utilities.  See report from ISEAL.

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/168/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-april-2014/ 168 Fri, 25 Apr 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (March 2014) Summary

North Face and Levi introduce their own eco standards, offering to share with others.  A major study on eco labeled goods shows a US$ 40 bn market which grew by 40% in 2012, and the EU will accept certification to certain standards as proof of sustainability for public procurement.

North Face Launches Standard:  US outdoor brand North Face has released a standard for Sustainable Down.  The standard covers activities from farming to the trading chain of down-related products.

40% Increase in Eco-Labelled Production to $36 billion: The IIED reports on a multi-organizational study on the production and consumption of eco and sustainable labelled products.  The State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) Review 2014 provides a bird's eye view of market and performance trends of the 16 most prevalent standards initiatives, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Organic, and Rainforest Alliance — across ten leading commodity sectors. The Review reveals double and triple digit growth across the majority of initiatives surveyed. Certified goods with an estimated trade value of US$36.1 billion in 2012, and a much higher market value, were studied.  Details of the study can be found.

Certification is Proof of EU Sustainability: ISEAL reports that certification to certain standards can be proof of sustainability according to EU public procurement rules.  " Previously, the EU rules that organise how public authorities purchase goods and services had mostly given preference to lowest cost. The new rules aim to give more prominence to sustainability and quality considerations.  The revision took place as part of achieving the Europe 2020 objectives that encourage wider use of green procurement that supports “a shift towards a resource efficient and low-carbon economy.” 

Water Standard from Levis: Levi Straus & Co is claiming an industry first with the launch of a new standard for water recycling and reuse in apparel manufacturing. The standard provides its supplier facilities with detailed technical guidelines to help them re-use and recycle water - and reduce fresh water usage - and Levi says it will share it with other textile industry stakeholders. 

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/167/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-march-2014/ 167 Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (Jan 2014) Game Over for Angora Wool: A video showing rabbits screaming as they were being farmed for Angora wool distributed by PETA has quickly sealed the fate of the Angora wool sector in many key European and North American markets.  The activist animal rights group acted swiftly to ensure the video clip went viral and made full use of social media to ensure rapid and pronounced impact.  The represents yet another challenge faced by the fashion retailers in the developed world markets where viral media can instantly challenge their potential customers with a powerful and targeted message.  Retailers Topshop, M&S and ASOS have removed the products from their line ups.

New EU Ecolabel for Textiles: The EU has gone some way to approving a revised set of guidelines for businesses who wish to market their textile products labelled with the EU's Ecolabel.  According to Ecotextile News, "was agreed that cotton and other natural cellulosic fibres will have to contain a minimum content of organic or ‘IPM’ (integrated pest management) cottons. In addition, new criteria will be put in place for man-made cellulosics, recycled synthetic fibres and wool scouring. Fluorine chemistry used for water, oil and stain repellency will be banned under the voluntary standard and for the first time a brand new restricted substance list will be introduced."  The new guidelines will likely come into effect this year.  

Green Baby Products Demand Growing: The market for organic and environmental friendly baby products (food, clothing, toys) has exploded in the last decade according to an online report from greenbiz.com.   Wholefood, Gerber and Nestles are all large players active in this growing market along with hundreds of smaller players such as ekobai member Funkoos .

A Challenge to LEEDS for Building Certification: It is common in the world of voluntary sustainability standards for there to be one leading global standard for a product category or theme, such as the Marine Stewardship Council for seafood or FSC and PEFC for forestry.  In the field of certifying buildings as green, LEED is the clear leader.  LEED stands for Leadership in Environmental Design and claims to have been applied to over 7,500 building projects since 1998.  Green Globes is a rival system introduced slightly after LEED, from Canada, and is slowly catching up to its larger rival.  The promoter in the US is Oregon based Green Building Initiative, and supporters claim the Green Globes process to be less bureaucratic and less costly. 

A New Market Place for Organic Wine: Web site organic wine was established a year ago to provide buyers and sellers of organic wine with a filtered portal to find each other - an ekobai.com for wine!

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/166/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-jan-2014/ 166 Wed, 15 Jan 2014 00:00:00 UTC
Ekobai Newsletter: Eco-certification and markets (Dec 2013) News from Oeko Tex: The world’s largest standards body for the textiles sector, Oeko Tex has confirmed it will introduce a new product label in 2014 in place of its long standing Oeko Tex 100 label which has over 10,000 registrations and relates to environmental and increasingly sustainability issues.  It has also announced it will develop a new tool called MySTeP, which will enable retailers to list STeP-certified production plants in a 'cockpit' within their own apparel supply chains.  Existing holders of the Oeko Tex certification will likely migrate to the new standard over time.

Certified Food Feels Better: Food certified to organic and sustainability standards like Fairtrade standards tastes better to consumers, according to a “blind” tasting study conducted in Sweden and reported by the UK’s Daily Mail.  According to the researchers “In the case of crop products,  like coffee, consumers could quite easily imagine production differences that could influence taste, such as crop spraying.’  Their study builds on earlier research which found we also tend to assume that organic products are healthier and have fewer calories.

New Certification System for Restaurants: The US consumer group United States Healthful Food Council has announced a scoring and audited certification for restaurants which relates to “authenticity, wholesomeness, nutrition and sustainability”.    The REAL program will be piloted in Washington DC and the group states “Developed with the input of experts in nutrition, health, sustainability, foodservice and behavioral economics, the REAL Index is a consensus-based standard used to evaluate and recognize restaurants and other foodservice establishments that complete the USHFC’s extensive, third-party certification program.  There is also a REAL product certification process currently under development.”

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/165/ekobai-newsletter-eco-certification-and-markets-dec-2013/ 165 Thu, 12 Dec 2013 00:00:00 UTC
Textiles: Your Key Customers and Sustainability (Nov 2013) Summary:  Its clear sustainability issues (environmental, social, worker welfare) are a key part of supplier selection and business relationships for the world’s leading clothing and fashion retailers.  Some use exclusively their own sustainability standards while others rely on external standards like Oeko Tex, WRAP, SA 8000 – most likely it's a combination of both however.  Ekobai.com brings you a round up developments at key retailers likely to be at the top of your customer list – Walmart, Jack Wolfskin, M&S, H&M and others.

Walmart:  Supply Chain Chemicals Policy: The world’s leading retailer announced a policy to require its suppliers to work towards a stricter chemicals-in-product policy for common household and cosmetics products.  The new policy will come into effect in 2015 and in particular, involve a list of 10 chemicals it wants to phase out of its supply chain (not specified in this source).  

Jack Wolfskin: Transparency on Suppliers: Leading outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin has followed the lead of Nike, Levis and other brands concerned with worker safety and welfare risk in their supply chain and has published a list of its direct suppliers.  In disclosing the list the company states “By publishing a detailed plan of action in the spring under the motto, "We go further", Jack Wolfskin has cemented its status as an industry pioneer in the environmentally friendly management of chemicals. In extending its current responsibility for the product to include comprehensive responsibility for its production, Jack Wolfskin has made a commitment to transparency with regard to its manufacturers throughout the supply chain.

M&S, Next, Tescos and others sign up to Sustainable road map: WRAP is a global standard aimed at sustainability in the textiles sector.  Its new initiative SCAP 2020 now has signed up global brands representing a huge portion of the UK’s textiles sector.  According to WRAP: “Signatories and supporters of the SCAP 2020 Commitment have pledged to play their part in reducing the carbon, waste and water footprints of clothing they supply or receive in the UK, starting from a baseline year of 2012.”  This companies signed up can be seen here

H&M Promotes its Suppliers: The Swedish retail chain H&M  is now one of the top three global retailers of clothes and fashion.  It is also striving to be the leader in sustainability focusing on ethics, climate change, use of organic materials and waste management among other issues.  As it has no factories of its own, supply chain management is paramount.  It has now taken the step of other leading fashion and apparel brands such as Levis and Nike and is releasing a list of its suppliers, a list of several hundred companies accounting for 95% of its order volume.  It is likely that a supplier on this public list will be able to utilize this “qualification” in demonstration of its own sustainability efforts.

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/164/textiles-your-key-customers-and-sustainability-nov-2013/ 164 Tue, 12 Nov 2013 00:00:00 UTC
Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (Oct 2013) Summary: This month reports on leading buyers.  Two stories from Walmart, the Gap reports on Bangladesh and Jack Wolfskin discloses its suppliers.

Walmart Supply Chain Chemicals Policy: The world’s leading retailer announced a policy to require its suppliers to work towards a stricter chemicals-in-product policy for common household and cosmetics products.  The new policy will come into effect in 2015 and in particular, involve a list of 10 chemicals it wants to phase out of its supply chain (not specified in this source). 

The Gap Reports on Progress in Bangladesh:  In its latest CSR Report the US clothing retailer Gap reports on its response to the worldwide outcry following last year’s fire in Bangladesh that killed over 1000 garment workers.  The Gap reports: “We have formed an expert team focused on improving fire and building safety at the factories producing our branded apparel in Bangladesh. We are also providing training to help drive worker and management behavior changes to improve fire safety practices.  Fire and building safety in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry is a key priority for Gap Inc., and we are working with a broad coalition of stakeholders through the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to address this urgent issue.”

Transparency on Suppliers: Leading outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin has followed the lead of Nike, Levis and other brands concerned with worker safety and welfare risk in their supply chain and has published a list of its direct suppliers.  In disclosing the list the company states “By publishing a detailed plan of action in the spring under the motto, "We go further", Jack Wolfskin has cemented its status as an industry pioneer in the environmentally friendly management of chemicals. In extending its current responsibility for the product to include comprehensive responsibility for its production, Jack Wolfskin has made a commitment to transparency with regard to its manufacturers throughout the supply chain.

Walmart Chooses MSC Certification for Salmon: In 2012, a number of Alaska based salmon fishing companies opted out of the Marine Stewardship Councils certification program, arguing that its own Global Trust Certification  rogram was equivalent and should be accepted.   In a Reuters news release it has been reported that Walmart is sticking to its MSC requirements and the State of Alaska is lobbying the retail giant to reverse this.   The decision could have serious implications for fisheries choosing between the MSC and other systems of sustainability certification.


http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/163/certification-and-markets-an-ekobaicom-newsletter-oct-2013/ 163 Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:00:00 UTC
Walmart's New Chemicals Policy for Suppliers Walmart Supply Chain Chemicals Policy: The world’s leading retailer announced a policy to require its suppliers to work towards a stricter chemicals-in-product policy for common household and cosmetics products.  The new policy will come into effect in 2015 and in particular, involve a list of 10 chemicals it wants to phase out of its supply chain (not specified in this source).  

http://www.ekobai.com/analysis/update/162/walmarts-new-chemicals-policy-for-suppliers/ 162 Wed, 18 Sep 2013 00:00:00 UTC
Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (Sept 2013) Summary: This month we report on GRI’s new fourth generation reporting guidelines, a new organic standard for African cotton, a new US, big-corporate orientated sustainable purchasing initiative last but not least, the first Sustainable Beauty Awards! 

Forth Generation Sustainability Reporting: The Global Reporting Initiative is a US based non profit group which is the leading gathering place for corporate reporting in environmental and related sustainability issues.  In July 2013 the group released its G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, its fourth iteration of such guidelines.  GRI states “The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (the Guidelines) offer Reporting Principles, Standard Disclosures and an Implementation Manual for the preparation of sustainability reports by organizations, regardless of their size, sector or location. The Guidelines also offer an international reference for all those interested in the disclosure of governance approach and of the environmental, social and economic performance and impacts of organizations. The Guidelines are useful in the preparation of any type of document which requires such disclosure.”  A Guidebook (92 pages) as well as a Implementation Manual (259 pages) are available as downloads from the GRI Web site.

 A New Sustainable Purchasing Group: In recognition that the major environmental and social impacts of an organization lie in its supply chain, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council launched in the US last month.  As a multi-stakeholder group it announced that it “brings together visionary professionals from institutions, suppliers, government, standards bodies and NGOs to simplify, optimize and standardize the practice of sustainable procurement. Together, we can leverage the trillions of dollars spent by organizations to drive social, environmental, and economic sustainability.”  The “founding circle” consists of leading academic and municipal buyers from around the US and Fortune 500 corporate suppliers such as Dell, FedEx and Office Depot.

A New Organic Standard for Africa: The non profit Cotton Made in Africa  has announced a new standard that combines its Africa-made credentials with organic: The Aid by Trade Foundation, owner of the "Cotton made in Africa" (CmiA) standard combines existing organic standards with socio-economic criteria to find CmiA-Organic, a standard for organic smallholder cotton producers in Sub-Saharan Africa.  AbTF combines the organic standards EC No. 834/2007and GOTS with socio-economic standards from CmiA, including criteria regarding food security and farmer income, gender equality, investments into community programs etc. The draft standard "CmiA-Organic" was developed by the Aid by Trade Foundation in close cooperation with external experts”.  Comments are accepted until the end of August 2013.

 Consumers Interested in Food Content: A consumer study surveying 3000 people across the UK, France and other parts of Europe indicate that most consumers are interested in which farm was used to produce the meat and dairy they consume.  The study was sponsored by LabellingMatters, a joint venture of several leading UK animal welfare and organic groups.  The group states “A landmark study clearly shows that 8 out of 10 EU consumers want to know which farm system has been used to produce their meat and dairy products. The European Commission is resisting this change and wants to keep consumers in the dark about where their food actually comes from.” 

Sustainable Cosmetics Awards: The first-ever awards dedicated to sustainability in the beauty industry have been launched by Organic Monitor. The inaugural Sustainable Beauty Awards  has begun accepting nominations, with winners to be announced at an evening reception in Paris in October 2013. The aim of the awards is to give recognition to cosmetic and ingredient firms who are pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the beauty industry.   The awards will have five categories that represent different sustainability aspects. The green formulations award is for cosmetic brands with a high level of green (natural / organic) ingredients in their formulations. The sustainable packaging award is for cosmetic packaging that has a low environmental footprint, whereas the sustainable ingredient award is for a material that makes a significant difference in terms of ecological and / or social impact. The sustainability pioneer award is for a company that is a leader in a certain area, whereas the sustainability leadership award is for an overall leader in sustainability.  

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Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (July 2013) M&S, Next, Tescos and others sign up to Sustainable road map: WRAP is a global standard aimed at sustainability in the textiles sector.  Its new initiative SCAP 2020 now has signed up global brands representing a huge portion of the UK’s textiles sector.  According to WRAP: “Signatories and supporters of the SCAP 2020 Commitment have pledged to play their part in reducing the carbon, waste and water footprints of clothing they supply or receive in the UK, starting from a baseline year of 2012.”  The companies signed up can be seen here. 

Microsoft Co’s Supply Chain: Greenbiz reports on the world’s leading software maker’s Vendor Code of Conduct.  Microsoft states it has over 60,000 suppliers and in 2004 collaborated with the electronics sector to create the Electronics Industry Citizenship Council and EICC Code of Conduct.   The Vendor Code of Conduct involves ethical, labor, health and safety and environmental issues which each supplier must agree with.  Further Microsoft uses the framework of the Global Reporting Initiative.  in asking its leading tier of suppliers to demonstrate compliance to its Vendor requirements.  According to Greenbiz “The New York City Pension Funds played an active role in encouraging Microsoft and other technology companies to promote GRI reporting to their suppliers.”

A Global Agreement on Credibility of Eco Labels: The ISEAL Alliance is a grouping of the world’s leading sustainability standards.  Its annual conference was held in London in June 2013.  At this, it announced a global agreement on what makes a credible sustainability standard.  According to ISEAL: “Buyers can use the Credibility Principles to avoid standards guilty of ‘greenwashing,’ such as those developed in so-called ‘closed door’ processes, or that simply require self-declarations by factory or farm owners to become certified, or even just charge a fee for label usage with no inspection at all.  The Credibility Principles are: Sustainability. Improvement. Relevance. Rigour. Engagement. Impartiality. Transparency. Accessibility. Truthfulness. Efficiency.” 

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Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (June 2013) 80% of US Parents Buy Organic: The US Organic Trade Association  has released a “2013 US Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study”  which states that 81% of US families purchase organic produce, one of the highest in the world and far higher than is conventionally thought.  Organic Market Info’s report on the study remarks that “nearly half of those who purchase organic foods said they do so because they are “healthier for me and my children.” Additionally, parents’ desire to avoid toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones, and genetically modified organisms ranked high among the reasons cited for buying organic products.”

 Stop & Shop Expands Labelled Sea Food: New England, US based grocery retailer Stop and Shop  with 300 stores throughout the Northeast US has launched a Sustainable Choice program.  According to the retailer: “program to help customers make an educated choice on products that are sustainable, safe, and responsibly produced. Beginning in the seafood department, a “Sustainable Choice” icon alerts customers to those seafood items that have been responsibly farmed or fished and are certified by a qualifying eco-label or are listed on the New England Aquarium’s Best Choices list.”

 New Sustainability Marks: UL (Underwriters Laboratories) < http://www.ul.com/global/eng/pages/ > is a safety and environmental consulting and certification company headquartered in Illonois, US It maintains offices in 46 countries.  The firm has recently made a push into the sustainability arena, with the purchase of consumer facing sustainability and health rating firm Good Guide last year.  UL announced in May 2013 the launch of new certification marks for its portfolio of services, including the GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO certifications. The new marks consolidate ecolabels gained through acquisition, leverage UL's trusted brand, and bring additional clarity to the marketplace.  “The new UL Environment certification marks are a powerful tool offering consistency and connecting purchasers to healthier, more sustainable products they can trust," says Sara Greenstein, president of UL Environment.

 H&M to Stay with Bangladesh: The recent industrial disaster in Bangladesh has caused intense debate within the political, business and sustainability worlds as to the root cause of the building collapse that caused more than 1000 deaths.  Needless, several of the leading brands whose sourcing was associated with the incident have announced they would no longer source textiles from the country – see article on Tesco.  However, one of the world’s leading clothing retailers, H&M has pledged to stick with its Bangladesh suppliers, as detailed in Ecotextile News.


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Certification and Markets: Yet More Standards! (May 2013) Oeko Tex’s New STeP Certification System: Oeko Tex  is the world’s largest environmentally focused certification system for the textiles sector.  Based in Zurich it has issued in excess of 100,000 certificates since its introduction in 1992.  The organization behind the Oeko Tex standards is the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology (Oeko-Tex), whose members are 15 independent research and testing centers globally.   In response to demand for inclusion of social and worker safety issues into the textile supply chain, as well as environmental, Oeko Tex has now released the STeP standard for sustainability.  The standard explains: “STeP analyses and evaluates existing production conditions with respect to the use of environmentally friendly technologies and products.  Another important issue is the assessment of working conditions and the plant’s impact on the environment.”   The standard will be launched in June 2013 in Frankfurt.   It is likely to overlap with other standards specifically focused on worker safety in the textile sector, such as WRAP, SA 8000 and FLA.

Walmart’s Sustainable Supplier Management Program: While not a new issue, the following article presents a concise and interesting view on the sustainable supplier management program at Walmart, which with almost half a trillion dollars in sales is the world’s largest retailer.  While Walmart launched its sustainability program in 2006 and was a founding member of the Sustainability Consortium in 2009 last year it launched the Sustainability Index to thousands of its suppliers, questioning them on a range of issues related to sustainability.  The suppliers are ranked and rated, and the results made available to its army of “Merchants” – the people who buy for Walmart.  Critically, the Merchants performance and pay will be partially based on the sustainability performance of the product category in which they operate, providing a mid-level incentive to weed out the poor sustainability performers from Walmart’s supply chain as well as improving the performance of the remaining ones.

Enhanced Eco Labeling System Proposed for the EU: While the EU has since 1992 had its EU Eco-labeling system in place, it now wants to broaden and deepen the methodology used to determine what products are allowed to affix what labels and more importantly to harmonize labels across its boundaries.  In a “Communication” (which is a distant precursor to any EU regulation) entitled “Building the Single Market for Green Products  it proposes a three year pilot study to improve and broaden the green product process.  Expected timeline: January 2015 for testing of labeling and “communication methods” with likely implementation of any regulations for voluntary environmental labeling 3-4 years after this.  In more immediate news, there are reports of fresh talks on eco-labeling in the textiles sector.

A Sustainability Label for Smartphones? Swedish standards body and certification company TCO Development already has a certification scheme for IT products.  In line with the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets, now the largest IT markets in the world, the group has proposed a certification standards specifically for smartphones.   The draft standard covers recycling, packaging, CSR and other issues.  The company hopes to market its new smartphone specific standard in mid-2013 and certification to it will allow users to carry the same marking as previous TCO standards.  The group states “it will be sustainability certification which follows guidelines of a third party certification, Type 1 eco label according to ISO14024.”  TCO certified products are marketed by the likes of Samsung and Lenovo.  See for more details:.

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Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (April 2013) H&M Promotes its Suppliers: The Swedish retail chain H&M is now one of the top three global retailers of clothes and fashion.  It is also striving to be the leader in sustainability focusing on ethics, climate change, use of organic materials and waste management among other issues.  As it has no factories of its own, supply chain management is paramount.  It has now taken the step of other leading fashion and apparel brands such as Levis and Nike and is releasing a list of its suppliers, a list of several hundred companies accounting for 95% of its order volume.  It is likely that a supplier on this public list will be able to utilize this “qualification” in demonstration of its own sustainability efforts.

 Cambodia Promotes Ethical Supply Chain Credentials: Playing catch up in economic development in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cambodia is now attempting to build its textile sector partially on marketing its ethical and worker welfare credentials.  As the global brands seek destinations of lower cost than China, Cambodia’s market share is rising.  The trade association in the country GMAC is working with the ILO on an initiative called Better Factories Cambodiaattempting to raise the quality of worker management in the country.  An in country account of supplier management by Levis in Cambodia can be found here.  Further attention to worker welfare in Cambodia was noted early this year after workers at an alleged Walmart supplier went on strike over pay and other issues.  The dispute was reportedly settled in March this year.  

Another Sustainable Clothing Group Formed for Home Textiles: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition  was formed in 2011 by a group of apparel and footwear industry players (such as Walmart, Adidas, Patagonia) to improve sustainability performance in the industry, specifically by improving supplier assessment tools.  In February this year another similar sounding group, this time the Sustainable Textiles Coalition  emerged, led by Walmart rivals Target  and Williams Sonoma and with the stated mission.   “Our mission is to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on a common approach for measuring and evaluating textile product sustainability performance that will spotlight priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation.  To deliver on that mission we are developing an index to assess environmental and social performance across the textiles value chain.”   The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s remit is similar while it is several years ahead with its Higg’s Index: “The Higg Index 1.0 is primarily an indicator based tool for apparel that enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices.”  While Target is a member of both groups, Williams Sonoma is not and the new coalition explains the relationship between the two groups: “The Sustainable Textiles Coalition will leverage the work of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, creator the Higg Index which currently focuses on apparel and footwear products.  The Sustainable Textiles Coalition will build on this work to create and use an index tailored to home textile products.”

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Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (March 2013) Fairtrade Sales in UK Up, 1.3 billion FLO Bananas consumed: The Fairtrade Foundation announced a 19% increase in UK sales of its FLO labelled products in 2012.  The group noted “Cocoa, sugar and bananas have all seen significant growth at respectively 21%, 35% and 15% increase over 2011. Wine, gold and herbs and spices have all grown.  Areas that have remained steady include coffee, tea and cotton.  Critically, this means a significant increase in Fairtrade Premiums, the extra that producers receive for business or social development, in 2012 compared with 2011”.  The UK drank two billion cups of Fairtrade coffee and ate 1.3 billion Fairtrade bananas in the year! 

Whole Foods and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): The US retail chain Whole Foods  is the world’s leading retailer or organic produce.  Increasingly the issue of GMO content in food is on the agenda of organic buyers in the US as demonstrated by the rapid increase of non-GMO food sales.  The retail giant has announced its policy on GMO transparency.  That is, it will achieve full disclosure and labeling by 2018.  “Whole Foods Market announced today at Natural Products Expo West that, by 2018, all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores1 must be labeled to indicate if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency.  GMOs are now part of an ongoing national conversation, thanks to efforts of various advocacy groups such as JustLabelIt.org and to individual states considering their own mandatory labeling laws, like the efforts that are now underway in Washington state. “Whole Foods Market supports that measure and looks forward to supporting other state efforts that may finally lead to one uniform set of national standards,” said Robb. “While we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.”


The Story of an Environmental Campaign – Lobsters in Germany:  In the last few years, the US animal rights group the Albert Schweitzer Foundation has been in discussions with European food retailers concerning the sale of lobsters < http://www.albertschweitzerfoundation.org/news/german-discount-supermarket-chains-end-lobster-sales >.  It argues that the process of catching and bringing lobsters to market is inherently cruel.  “The lobster industry has been criticized by animal advocates for a long time now. The catching, transport, lengthy stock periods with no access to food, and cooking of live lobster inflicts a great amount of stress as well as pain and suffering on the animals.”   A year later press reports indicate the majority of German retailers have now phased out lobster sales.  Interestingly the world’s leading fisheries labeling system, MSC lists 241 companies dealing with lobsters searchable as being MSC-certified.  MSC however primarily aims at assessing environmental aspects of fisheries rather than animal cruelty issues, about which the Albert Schweitzer Foundation appealed to the German public in its campaign.

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Certification and Markets: An ekobai.com Newsletter (February 2013) Bangladesh Factory Fire Focuses Attention on Worker Safety

In the aftermath of the lethal textile mill fire to hit a factory in Bangladesh in November 2012, international retail and clothing brands are re-examining their suppliers and supply chain management processes.  A New York Times article   provided graphic reporting of basic lapses in safety procedures and possibly negligence resulting in more than 100 fatalities.  The same article linked the factory with supplying well-known brands such as Disney and Walmart and noted “Wal-Mart said it received a safety audit that showed the factory was "high-risk" and had decided well before the blaze to stop doing business with Tazreen. But it said a supplier had continued to use Tazreen without authorization.”

Sustainability and Supply Chain News from Walmart

US retailing giant Walmart buys approximately 30% of China’s exports to North America.  Hence its policies on corporate responsibility in the supply chain are closely monitored by governments and emerging market business alike.  It has long had what it calls an “ethical sourcing” policy in place and makes use of a range of internal-Walmart standards, global voluntary standards and supply chain auditing and outreach processes to implement its policy.   In the wake of a November 2012 factory fire in Bangladesh which killed more than one hundred workers, a report in Ecotextile News indicates the company has warned its supply chain to control their own suppliers in a “zero tolerance” policy for health and safety and other infractions. 

And MSC News from McDonalds

McDonalds  is the world’s largest restaurant chain and through its fish items is also one of the leading buyers of fishery related products world-wide.  The Marine Stewardship Council, the world’s leading sustainability standard for fish and fisheries reported that McDonalds introduced the MSC label to the over 100 million “Filet-O-Fish” burgers it services across Europe each year.  In February 2013, MSC reported that McDonalds will expand the program into its US restaurants, one of the first mega-chains to do so.  It is likely that this will give a huge boost to the public awareness of the MSC logo, placing it in front of millions of US consumers daily.

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