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Green Tick™: an example of sustainability certification of goods and services

Susan M. Harris (Green Tick Technologies Limited, Whangarei, New Zealand)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 6 March 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe a sustainability certification system and label based on an independent, full life cycle assessment of conventionally produced goods from “cradle to grave”.

Design/methodology/approach

The design approach used comprised five phases: review of presently available third party environmental certification systems regarding their suitability for use as a sustainability certification tool for conventionally produced goods; identification of desirable scientific and consumer design criteria for a sustainability certification system and label; identification of key performance indicators for sustainability; description of an independent sustainability certification system based on the desirable design criteria, in particular an independent full life cycle assessment; and market trials of the sustainability label to test consumer reactions and commercial benefits of independent sustainability certification using two commercial case studies in Australia and New Zealand.

Findings

None of the third party environmental certification systems reviewed was suitable for use as a sustainability certification tool. Desirable design criteria for a sustainability certification system centred on an independent, full life cycle assessment of operations from “cradle to grave”. A total of eight safety and 12 sustainability key performance indicators were proposed to specifically assess sustainability performance. An instantly recognizable logo comprising a “Green Tick” inside a circle, reminiscent of a government “stamp of approval”, was used as a sustainability label. Market trials of certified household products and lamb meat in Australasia confirmed positive consumer reactions to the “Green Tick” label, and considerable commercial benefits for the companies that used it on their products.

Practical implications

The “Green Tick” sustainability certification system and label addresses an identified gap in the market by providing an easily recognizable, independent, life cycle based sustainability certification of consumer products. Market trials indicated that there was measurable consumer support for independent sustainability labelling, and significant commercial benefits for companies whose products qualified for sustainability labelling.

Originality/value

The paper describes the world's first‐ever independent sustainability certification system and label. It is based on third party, full life cycle assessment of products, in accordance with the European Commission's view that sustainability labelling should be based on independent, full life cycle assessments of products. Market trials of the label in the Australasian FMCG sector indicated that consumers responded positively to an easily recognizable, independent sustainability label, and that independent sustainability certification and labelling have significant commercial potential for manufacturers of genuinely sustainable products.

Keywords

Citation

Harris, S.M. (2007), "Green Tick™: an example of sustainability certification of goods and services", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 167-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777830710725830

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited