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new report has been published by the Changing Markets Foundation.The report is aptly titled, “The False Promise of Certification”. Within it, serious accusations are made that the voluntary certification model is broken, with researcher’s finding reason to accuse certain certification schemes of being guilty of shielding companies that are actively “destroying the planet”.

[…] The Ecolabel Index, the largest global directory of ecolabels, currently lists over 460 labels in 25 different sectors (Ecolabel Index, 2018). Most of these have emerged in the past two decades. But are they any good? This report shows that, rather than being an accelerator for positive change, this ‘flood’ of certification creates confusion for consumers and the industry and is standing in the way of genuinely sustainable consumption.We investigated voluntary initiatives in three sectors where growing consumption and unsustainable sourcing have caused serious environmental problems: palm oil, fisheries and textiles.

In short, the report investigates a fairly lengthy list of voluntary certification initiatives that provide a company, product or service with sustainability or some other sort of ethical endorsement. The sectors are wide-ranging, as are the product labels. The key findings make for some startling reading. Not only is it argued that many certification schemes are failing consumers – and the environmental or social issues they seek to address – but such popular certification bodies as Friends of the Sea (FOS) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) come under heavy criticism, with “both found to be certifying numerous fisheries as sustainable – even when they overfished, had very high levels of by-catch and, in some cases, were even at odds with national legislation.”

Another example comes in the area of palm oil, concerning such popularly established certification schemes as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

This report shows that none of the schemes has been effective at slowing down deforestation, peatland draining or the loss of biodiversity. While RSPO is often referred to as the best scheme in the sector, it has several shortcomings; most notably, it allows the conversion of secondary forests and the draining of peatlands, it has not prevented human rights violations and it does not require GHG emissions reductions.

In conclusion, the report lists a number of action points, including stricter standards and more critical aligning of certification policies when it comes to membership.

More here.

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