Is it possible to create a Circular Economy Labelling Standard? Establishing any Standard is a complex and laborious task requiring consultation with many stakeholders. The Circular Economy in itself is relatively complex due to the necessity for system change in almost every aspect of the post-industrial consumer world we live in.
There are several well established Standard’s organisations around the world, most notably the ISEAL Alliance and Cradle-to-Cradle Certifications. The main difficulty certification standards have is the cost and complicated process most companies have to go through in order to be awarded a label.
The Cradle-to-Cradle certification standard comes closets to what a Circular Economy Standard could look like and provides five different levels of a product’s overall mark. Yet currently all the products certified are made in Europe, North America or South America. There is nothing coming out of Asia, a region that has 60% of the world’s population.
In addition, what is becoming a more familiar term – ‘Circular Economy’ or ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’? How do consumer’s understand the Cradle-to-Cradle mark? This is not a negative comment, simply the reality of any Standard’s brand value to convey the message, in this case the message of ‘sustainability’.
ISEAL Alliance represents the Fair Trade Certified, Marine Stewardship and Forest Stewardship along a host of other Standard. These are much more familiar, easily recognisable Standards with strong brand value. Once again, meeting the criteria to be certified any one of these Standards is not easy. And the strength of the brand value does not lie with ISEAL Alliance but the Standard’s owner and their efforts to make it work.
Can we come up with a Circular Economy Standard specific to certain products, let’s say starting with plastic? Can we make it simple enough to engage the many thousands of small plastic manufacturer’s across the Asian region? Can we make it easily recognisable? Can we give it brand power? And then, can we expand to include a larger product range?
The answer is easy – we need to!
Image: The image comes from ‘Sustainability Illustrated‘ and has been modified for this page.