Sustainability Standards and Certifications
Certificates and labels help measure a company’s sustainability score effectively, as they indicate the alignment with the environmental or social impact of products and brands.
Impakter’s analysts have compiled an exhaustive list of certificates and labels for end consumers and companies alike to access and make conscious purchasing decisions across various industry sectors.
How many sustainability certifications are there?
Compared to the early years (late 80s), nowadays there are more than 600 ecolabels, certifications. and standards.
Among these, some have entered our everyday vocabulary. Think of the word “organic”, or try to quickly picture the Rainforest Alliance logo, you probably thought of that frog right?
Below you’ll find the full list of the most important sustainability certificates out there. Each page features a detailed break-down of the industry, the target audience, and the core values behind the certificate.
What’s the organic standard? Is UTZ-certified coffee actually sustainable? Who’s behind the Fairtrade label? Browse our sustainability certificates database and find it out.
|ABVTEX PROGRAM||Textile Products||Life Cycle||Certification||Brazil||Multiproduct||ABVTEX|
|Aquaculture Stewardship Council||Seafood||Lifecycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||ASC|
|B Corporation||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||BCORP|
|Blue Angel||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Eco Label||Germany||Multiproducts||Blue Angel, Blueangel, Blauer engel|
|Bluesign||Textile Responsible Chemicals||Processing and Manufacturing||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Bluesign|
|BREEAM||Construction Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||BREEAM|
|CARES Sustainability Schemes||Material and Construction Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||CARES|
|Chain of custody certification- Program for endorsement of forestry certification||Forest Induced Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Specific Product||PEFC|
|Content Claim Standard||Consumer Goods||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Textile Exchange CCS|
|Cradle to Cradle Certificate||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||C2C|
|Eco-Reinforcement Certificate||Material and Construction Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||ECO-R|
|Fair Labor Association||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||FLA|
|Forest Stewerdship Council||Forest Induced Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Specific Product||FSC|
|FSSC 22000||Sustainability||Shipping||Certification||Global||Specific Product||FSSC|
|Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood||Aquaculture||Lifecycle||Certification||Global||Specific Product||GAAS|
|Global Food Safety Initiative||Farming||Lifecycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||GFSI|
|Global G.A.P||Farming||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Global G.A.P|
|Global Organic Textile Standard||Textile and Apparel Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||GOTS|
|Global Recycle Standard||Textile Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Textile Exchange GRS|
|Global Red Meat Standard||Red Meat||Raw Materials||Certification||Global||Specific Product||GRMS|
|Global Social Compliance Programme||Consumer Goods||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||GSCP|
|Global Traceable Down Standard||Down Induced Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Specific Product||GTDS|
|Green Screen||Chemical Products||Processing and Manufacturing||Certification||USA||Multiproduct||GREENSCREEN, Green Screen|
|Green Seal||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Eco Label||USA||Multiproduct||GREENSEAL, Green Seal|
|International Featured Standards||Supply Chain||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||IFS|
|International Wool Textile Organisation||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||IWTO|
|IVN Naturtextil||Textile Products||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||IVN|
|Japan Food Safety Management||Supply Chain||Life Cycle||Certification||Japan||Multiproduct||JFSM|
|Japan GAP||Food||Life Cycle||Certification||Japan||Multiproduct||JGAP|
|Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design||Architecture and Buildings||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Specific product||LEED|
|Leather Working Group||Leather Products||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproducts||LWG|
|Marine Stewardship Council||Seafood||Lifecycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||MSC|
|Nordic Swan Ecolabel||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Eco Label||Scandanavia||Multiproduct||Nordic Swan|
|NSF/ANSI 336||Furnishing Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||NSF/ANSI|
|Organic Content Standard||Textile Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Textile Exchange OCS|
|PrimusGFS||Supply Chain||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||PrimusGFS|
|Recycled Claim Standard||Textile Products||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproducts||RCS|
|Responsible Mohair Standard||Mohair Products||Raw Materials||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||Textile Exchange RMS|
|Responsible Wool Standard||Wool Products||Raw Material||Certification||Global||Specific Product||Textile Exchange RWS|
|SA8000||Consumer Goods||Processing and Manufacturing||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||SA8000|
|SQF||Supply Chain||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||SQF|
|The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT)||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Brazil||Multiproduct||ABNT|
|United States Department of Agriculture||Agriculture||Raw Material||Certification||USA||Specific Product||USDA|
|UTZ Certified||Farming||Raw Materials||Certification||Global||Specific Product||UTZ|
|World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO)||Products and Services||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||WFTO|
|Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production||Textile,Apparel and Footwear Industry||Life Cycle||Certification||Global||Multiproduct||WRAP|
The number of certificates in a certificate chain can vary depending on the specific context and system being used. Typically, a certificate chain includes a root certificate, an intermediate certificate, and a leaf certificate (also known as an end-entity certificate). In some cases, there may be multiple intermediate certificates in the chain, and the number of certificates present can vary depending on the level of trust and security required for the system.
Some of the most recognized environmental certifications include:
- ISO 14001:2015 for Environmental Management Systems,
- LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for building and construction,
- FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) for forestry and paper products,
- Energy Star for energy efficiency,
- B Corp for overall social and environmental performance,
- Fairtrade for fair trade practices
- EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) for environmental management Keep in mind, different certifications are more recognized and important in different industries, regions, and sectors. It’s worth noting that this list is not exhaustive and many other recognized certifications provide information on environmental impact.
- According to a 2020 report by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), there were over 217 million hectares of FSC-certified forests worldwide.
- As of 2021, over 22,000 buildings, homes, and communities have been certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
- In 2020, the number of products certified by Energy Star reached over 50 billion, across more than 60 product categories.
- In 2020, there were over 4,000 organizations certified to the ISO 14001:2015 standard for Environmental Management Systems.
- Improved environmental and social performance: By achieving certification, organizations are demonstrating that they are meeting or exceeding certain standards and criteria for sustainability.
- Increased transparency and accountability: Certifications often require organizations to publicly report on their sustainability performance, which can help increase transparency and accountability.
- Enhanced reputation and credibility: Organizations that have achieved sustainability certifications can improve their reputation and credibility by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.
- Increased market access and differentiation: Many certifications are recognized by customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, which can help organizations differentiate themselves in the marketplace and gain access to new customers and markets.
- Cost savings: Implementing sustainability practices can often result in cost savings through resource conservation, waste reduction, and energy efficiency.
- Competitive advantage: Organizations that are certified may have a competitive advantage over their non-certified competitors.
It’s worth noting that different certifications may have different advantages, and the specific advantages an organization can gain will depend on the certification and the industry they are in.
- Determine which certification aligns with your sustainability goals.
- Review the certification’s requirements and criteria.
- Assess your organization’s current sustainability practices (you can do this with our Index Reporting)
- Create a sustainability plan to address any gaps in meeting the certification requirements.
- Implement the plan and document progress.
- Submit a certification application and undergo an on-site assessment.
- Continuously monitor and improve sustainability practices to maintain certification.