13 November 2013

Popular environmentally labelled goods examined in new research report

Sales of many environmentally labelled goods are soaring. A review of the market shows that one explanation is that the world’s largest private consumer-goods companies are investing heavily in their own standards for environmental labelling.

The number of goods produced and sold under some form of environmental labelling has risen sharply in the past few years. For example, sales of bananas and tea in the Rainforest Alliance have tripled in just a few years.

A report from the Entwined research programme shows that some of the world’s largest private consumer-goods companies are driving this rapid growth. Parts of the State of Sustainability Initiatives Report were presented at a seminar in early November.

Ikea, one of the corporate giants concerned, offers environmentally labelled ‘Better Cotton’, its own label. Questions raised in the report include how effective this and other, similar environmental labels are and the difficulties of assessing their effectiveness.

‘Now that environmentally labelled products are rapidly taking large market shares, there is an ever increasing challenge to research of distinguishing between what is trademark strategy and what really has effects on environmental and work conditions in the field,’ says Mark Sanctuary, the programme director for Entwined.

Attendees at the seminar included the Environment Ambassador of Sweden, Annika Markovic, and Anna-Karin Lindberg, head of ICA Environment and Social Responsibility. The report will be presented in Geneva on 5 December.

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