Updated on July 1, 2019

How can you choose a trustworthy sustainability program, and how does this translate into effective communication with consumers? We spoke to Lara Koritzke from the ISEAL Alliance about label confusion and credibility. 

So many labels, so little time

In many countries, particularly in Northern Europe, we’re bombarded with different sustainability claims every time we visit the supermarket.

Lara Koritzke from the ISEAL Alliance

Lara Koritzke from the ISEAL Alliance

“The UTZ label is one of many labels alongside a whole array of others that cover different products and address different types of sustainability – social conditions for farmers or workers, use of pesticides, deforestation, animal rights… the list goes on and on,” says Lara. “And that’s before you even consider the products adorned with terms like ‘natural’, or wrapped in brown paper packaging for an eco look.”

Needless to say, it can be confusing for consumers.

As a company, you want to make sustainable choices and communicate these effectively to your customers. So where should you start when it comes to choosing a trustworthy program?

The ISEAL Alliance

“One of the simplest ways to divide the credible sustainability standards from the rest is ISEAL Alliance logoISEAL membership,” says Lara. She explains: “ISEAL is a membership organization for sustainability standards. It sets out global references, called the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice for what credibility in standards and certification looks like.”

“For example, a standard that is a member of the ISEAL Alliance makes information freely available about how the standard is set and the impact it has,” says Lara, “and there must be a strong system in place to monitor and evaluate the results of its work and to use that learning for continuously improving the standard.” These and other principles can be seen in a short two minute animation.

ISEAL members include many of the credible standards that you will have heard of: Fairtrade, the Rainforest Alliance, and the Forest Stewardship Council, among many others. “By sourcing products that are certified by an ISEAL member, you can make sure your company’s sustainability program has a strong basis,” says Lara.

ISEAL is also a platform where the different sustainability programs can work together to reach shared goals.

Making a credible claim

“Naturally, companies want to show their consumers that they are taking action on sustainability, but many are wary of adding to the confusion around sustainability claims,” says Lara.

ISEAL challenge the label campaignThat’s why ISEAL is running a campaign encouraging people to ‘Challenge the Label’, explaining what makes a good sustainability claim.

“Good sustainability claims should be clear and easily understood,” says Lara.  “They should be accurate and based on substantiated evidence, and they should be relevant to the product or business at hand and not a distraction from bigger issues. Above all, they should be based on a system that is transparent and robust.”

The Rainforest Alliance, is a full member of the ISEAL Alliance. The UTZ label and the Rainforest Alliance seal are both a sign of trust, and we work with our members to help them communicate their sustainability credentials clearly and accurately.

Tell your own sustainability story

Once you are working with a credible sustainability program like the UTZ program, the next step is developing exciting, inspiring ways to make it your own. Looking for inspiration? Find out how others are doing it.  Or contact us by email.