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Campaign to Reveal Sustainability Truths and Lies


17 June 2015 at 11:12 am
Xavier Smerdon
A free tool is set to challenge spurious sustainability promises made to consumers and empower them to evaluate claims promoting socially, environmentally or economically responsible products, processes, businesses or services.

Xavier Smerdon | 17 June 2015 at 11:12 am


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Campaign to Reveal Sustainability Truths and Lies
17 June 2015 at 11:12 am

A free tool is set to challenge spurious sustainability promises made to consumers and empower them to evaluate claims promoting socially, environmentally or economically responsible products, processes, businesses or services.

The ISEAL Alliance, a global membership association for sustainability standards, recently unveiled its Challenge the Label tool, which aims to drive credibility and understanding in sustainability claims.  

The campaign will tackle untruthful Sustainability “claims” – the words or images used to set apart responsible products, processes, businesses or services.

According to ISEAL, “credible sustainability claims are clear, accurate and relevant, and are backed up by systems that are transparent and robust.

“Ultimately, the Challenge the Label tool hopes to drive more attention to sustainability claims, so that buyers understand the claims landscape more generally, and also begin to assess credibility in their sourcing decisions, thus leading to a reduction in confusing or misleading claims and a greater use of credible claims.”

The campaign covers a range of sustainability promises, from the economic (minimum or living wage, considerations of enterprise resilience, productivity/profitability, market access and security considerations, guaranteed pricing) to the environmental (water use/treatment, soil/land impact, protection of biodiversity, responsible use of natural resources, carbon and other energy considerations) and the social (labour rights, gender rights, cultural rights, social services including education, health care).

According to ISEAL, the tool will help consumers distinguish between unverified claims such as “our company cares about the earth” with more substantiated statements in the form of “Certified against the ABC standard by an independent certifier.”

To assess sustainability claims, ISEAL recommends consumers ask themselves four key questions:

  • What product or service does the claim cover?

  • What type of claim is being made?

  • What sustainability attributes does the claim cover?

  • How is the claim verified?

The Challenge The Label campaign also names five “universal truths” to spot genuine sustainability claims:

  • Clear – The sustainability claim should be easily understood and free from misleading details.

  • Accurate – The claim must be truthful and based on substantiated evidence.

  • Relevant – The claim should be about an issue that is material or significant to the product or business and not a distraction from bigger and more important issues.

  • Transparent – Information about the system behind the sustainability claim must be freely available and easily accessible.

  • Robust – There are controls in place regarding when the claim can be used and by whom, and clear criteria to be met before a claim can be used.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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