Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Certification schemes

Sustainability standards and certification schemes are voluntary business standards relating to environmental, social, ethical and food safety issues. Typically they are assessed by an independent certification organisation. Consumer-facing certification labels, when used, show people that company practices fulfil certain criteria or meet certain standards, and can in principle help inform their consumption choices. With new schemes added each year, there now exist hundreds of sustainability certifications. Some of the most well-known include ‘Fairtrade’, organic (certified nationally), and the Rainforest Alliance. While these certification efforts can lead to positive outcomes, some argue they may not always be as effective as intended for multiple reasons, some of which are outside the control of the participating companies. For example, the effect on poverty of various voluntary certification standards t is sometimes thought to be limited. In addition, for many certified commodities there is an oversupply relative to demand (i.e.up to 50% of compliant products are not sold as such). Most fundamentally, certification standards do not address the question of what level of demand can be deemed sustainable.

10 April 2018

The Sustainable Restaurant Association has launched its One Planet Plate campaign, asking restaurants to showcase sustainable and ethical eating by devising one dish that uses local sourcing, zero waste, better meat, lower carbon footprint or other environmental or ethical considerations. Hundreds of restaurants are taking part in the scheme.

Image: Tristantan, Palm oil fruit, Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0
26 March 2018

A report from the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment reviews environmental, social and economic aspects of palm oil production and consumption, and evaluates existing palm oil sustainability initiatives.

Image: Brian Boucheron, Fairyland Mesclun Mixed, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

The Carbon Underground, Green America and various food industry partners are developing a new standard for regenerative agriculture. It is claimed that the standard will encourage farmers to restore soil and improve crop resilience and nutrient density.

19 March 2018

The 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report analyses farm animal welfare management and performance of 110 global food companies, including retailers, wholesalers, food producers, restaurants and bars.

Image: Alberto Cruz, Farms in Périgord, France, Flickr, Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication
20 February 2018

The French government has announced that half of all food procured by its public sector must be organic or locally produced by 2022. The media coverage does not offer a definition of ‘local’ food.

Image: Apostolos, Cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

A new technique has been devised to verify whether the cows producing ‘organic’ milk have actually spent the required 120 days a year grazing outdoors.

Image: BTC Keychain, Bitcoin Chain IMG_9185, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
13 February 2018

The blockchain could be used to make it easier to trace the source of food items and tackle food safety scares quickly, but the system still depends on the honesty of those making the data entries.

Image: Hernán Piñera, Regreso / Return, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
6 February 2018

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Liberty Asia and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership have created a database to help corporate seafood buyers check fisheries for risk of slavery, forced labour and hazardous child labour.

Image: cuatork77, ROOSTERS, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 February 2018

Ikea has introduced a “Better Chicken Programme” aimed at improving animal welfare in the supply chains for its in-store cafes.

7 June 2017

An ad used by Arla Foods to promote their organic milk has been banned as it used the "misleading" claim that its production is "good for the land". 

Photo credit: Steve Slater, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 November 2016

This article evaluates the impact of voluntary crop sustainability standards on biodiversity protection. The authors reviewed the 12 major crop standards (such as Organic cropland (IFOAM), Fairtrade and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), and found that only two of these prohibited all deforestation (Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network and Proterra). 

16 February 2016

This report by a partnership comprising the International Trade Centre, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the International Institute for Sustainable Development summarises the recent market trends and growth in voluntary sustainability standards (VSS), for nine commodities.

17 December 2015

This report from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), reports that there has been 'steady' progress on certified sustainable palm oil use ­ with palm oil imports 72% sustainable in 2014 - up from 55% in 2013.

11 September 2015

Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production threaten global development and environmental well-being. Ensuring sustainable consumption and production should take a life cycle approach, and central to this is the development of product sustainability information (PSI).

This publication provides four key recommendations in order to advance a coherent and context-relevant use of PSI that is useful for consumer decision-making:

26 November 2014

Discussing how a very small proportion of the world's cocoa producers is responsible for the negative impacts of the industry, Oliver Nieburg of WWF presents options for improving performance.