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Many labels and standards claim they are proof of a more sustainable product. How do you know which ones to trust? October 25 is Global World Ecolabel Day, celebrating products and services that are independently verified to be more sustainable.

Purchasing organizations increasingly want to help drive sustainable development, using procurement as a tool. Their challenge is often to distinguish more sustainable products from those that are simply greenwashed. Trustworthy ecolabels can help make responsible choices easier, leading to true environmental benefits.

“As a purchaser, you have the power to make a difference. Your choices have a direct effect on the way industry acts and can push the development of more sustainable products”, says Clare Hobby, director for purchaser engagement at TCO Development, the organization behind the sustainability certification for IT products, TCO Certified.

To procure more sustainably, you need to consider a number of things. Criteria should be designed around the product’s sustainability impact from a life cycle perspective. To decide whether products actually meet the set criteria, compliance must be verified by an independent party.

“Criteria without follow-up don’t get the job done. You need to be able to verify product compliance, get into the supply chains to see what’s going on. Then you need to make sure there’s industry accountability for correcting any problems you find. All of this requires access and specialist expertise”, continues Hobby.

Global Ecolabelling Network is a non-profit association of third-party ecolabels worldwide. Chairperson Björn-Erik Lönn comments:

“By using an ecolabel Type 1, compliant with the international standard ISO 14024 you can be confident that criteria are relevant, cover the product’s life cycle and that independent verification of compliance is included.”

“When organizations around the world ask for trustworthy ecolabels with public criteria and open development processes, clarity and common rules of play are created. It also means that purchasers will send a strong, united message to the industry to take responsibility”, Björn-Erik Lönn concludes.

Global World Ecolabel Day aims to increase buyer awareness of Type 1 ecolabels and is coordinated by the Global Ecolabelling Network, GEN. All members of GEN are reviewed regularly, to make sure that they comply with the guiding principles of ISO 14024.

Learn more about Type 1 ecolabels in TCO Development’s webinar: Ecolabels used right — a tool for sustainable procurement, on October 25.