A Guide to Eco-Friendly Labels for Better Sustainability
Shopping more sustainably is the way of the future. As consumers become more educated on the growing environmental issues, they actively take steps to reduce their impact. And a large part of this global movement towards more ethical and sustainable consumerism is seen in the world of commerce, where companies are judged based on how eco-friendly they are and the steps they are actively taking to reduce their carbon footprints.
Labels are the quickest and easiest ways to gather all the information needed about a product to gauge the level of the environmental impact it may have. And it is crucial to understand label manufacturing and how to properly read and understand the information provided to be as well-informed as possible.
What are eco-friendly labels?
When looking for an eco-friendly label, there are a few factors and accompanying information that can be used to identify them.
These types of labels are created with sustainable materials, like recycled paper, biodegradable plastic, and FSC-certified paper, to name a few.
They also must use recyclable liners, as the traditional silicone-coated label liners cannot be recycled with conventional methods. Additionally, you can opt for linerless labels.
Why are they important?
Product packaging is a massive contributor to the overall waste in landfills worldwide. Nearly 20% of all single-use plastic products spill over into the environment, typically the oceans, creating massive patches of garbage throughout the oceans of the world. In addition, only 14-18% of all plastic gets recycled globally.
Furthermore, using the incorrect label can make your company’s investments in recyclable product packaging obsolete should the MRF (Material Recovery Facility) reject the packaging.
If a business has received special certification or endorsements from organisations like the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) for meeting the necessary requirements, only for their products to be rejected through improper packaging, it can be tremendously harmful to the image of a company.
How do they contribute to a Growing Business?
As all consumers are becoming more invested in sustainable consumerism and the impact of industry on the environment, sustainability and eco-friendly packaging and labels will quickly become the driving force in attracting and maintaining customers. These customers have shown loyalty toward brands that positively contribute to global sustainability.
Therefore, a company must align itself with these movements to avoid falling out of favor with consumers.
Going green can be more expensive and energy-intensive in the initial stages of transition. But as practices change and a steady ground is found, it can have many financial benefits too. As companies seek out more cost-efficient ways of doing business and maximize resources and energy used, budgets can stretch further than before.
Businesses making eco-friendly improvements also open themselves to various government incentives, like grants, loans, and tax benefits. For example, in the U.S., companies can win government contracts through the Green Purchasing Plan and qualify for various federal benefits.
Obtaining the correct labels to confirm products abide by specific sustainability guidelines is essential when building or rebranding a company as environmentally conscious. The certification you are after largely depends on the product and the process used to create it.
However, six main types of labels are used to signify an eco-friendly brand.
The B Corp certification shows that a business has pledged to follow strict social and environmental standards through its practices. These standards apply to the entire company, including employee benefits, charity, supply chains, and the materials used throughout their products.
To maintain this certification, a company has to actively and continuously asses its impact on its employees, environment, suppliers, and customers.
According to an industry-standard set by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, the Energy Star tag is used to communicate a product’s energy efficiency. You will see this mainly used on various appliances, electronics, heating, and cooling equipment, lighting, and a selection of other products found in the household.
Buying items that feature this label will help you reduce your own energy costs and any greenhouse gasses emitted through use.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
The GOTS certificate is used for textile products confirmed to be organic and sustainably manufactured through the entire creation process. In addition, strict ecological and social standards must be met throughout the supply chain, including aspects like processing, packaging, labeling, and trading, to name a few.
Items like blankets, pillows, rugs and various fabric items must contain at least 70% organic fibers to receive the GOTS label.
The Fair Trade program puts companies in the spotlight to adhere to specific social, economic, and environmental standards regarding their operations. The seal confirms that attention has been given to environmental protection, safe working conditions, and overall improved livelihoods for those employed by massive corporations, especially those responsible for making the products.
It can be applied to all business spheres, from food to clothing and make-up.
The Green-e certification verifies that clean energy and sustainable services have been used during production. It is primarily sought after by companies that use renewable energy in their day-to-day processes or those looking to purchase renewable energy credits or carbon offsets to balance their own emissions.
Made Safe labels are issued to items that have been manufactured only with ingredients that are safe for humans. These program screens products for thousands of harmful chemicals and evaluates if a component can harm people or the wider environment.
You will find these labels on cleaning products, make-up, and toiletries, amongst other things.