Vertical or Industry-Specific Environmental Standards


Vertical or Industry-Specific Environmental Standards

Many standards have developed over the past five years in specific industries ” pulp and paper, bananas, furniture ” and usually involve a combination of pledges by buying companies to adhere to a set of principles concerned with stopping environmental or social exploitation. There are many examples, but some of the better known and most successful include:

  1. The European Community s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). One of the first and most effective environmental auditing schemes, EMAS is sponsored by the EU and requires signatories to put in place a company environmental policy and to demonstrate senior management commitment. Established in 1995, EMAS is very similar in content to the ISO 14001 standard, and has traditionally been focused on manufacturing and industry in Europe, and though still mostly voluntary, is now mandatory for some industries in Germany and the Netherlands. Unlike ISO 14001, however, EMAS signatories are required to publish performance reports concerning their emissions, waste generation, and water and energy usage. [12 ]

  2. The Better Banana Project, Sponsored by the Rainforest Alliance. In 1991 the Rainforest Alliance, together with a group of Latin American conservation organizations, formed the Better Banana Project standards in order to help ensure that tropical wildlife and rainforests were protected from poor agricultural policies ” pollution, over use of pesticides and agrochemicals, excess soil or water use ” and to ensure the health and safety of workers. The effort has helped to alter the way that bananas are farmed by improving soil and water use, reducing rainforest destruction and waste, and promoting reforestation. They also set strict standards for worker health and safety on the farms. Individual farms seek certification under the program, and the Rainforest Alliance helps the farms to create an improvement plan and to become certified under the standards. The certification process can apply to farms, grower cooperatives, and multinationals. [13 ]

  3. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). One of the most effective environmental certification programs, the FSC is an independent NGO ( supported by most of the large environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace or the World Wildlife Fund) that provides performance standards and a certification scheme for good environmental and economic forest management.

One of the first organizations to develop the concept of the chain of custody, the FSC accredited certification system requires forest products to be labeled and monitored through the various stages of the supply chain, from cutting down the timber through manufacturing and to the point-ofsale by retailers. Forests have been certified in 30 countries , and the FSC is supported by various large corporations in the timber, pulp, and paper industries, including 480 U.S. companies that participate in the FSC s chain of custody program. [14 ]

[12 ] Business Standards and Corporate Governance: Tools and Resources, Corporate Social Responsibility Forum, at www.iblf.org/csr/csrwebassist.nsf/content/a1a2c3d4.html#iso.

[13 ] See www.rainforest-alliance.org/programs/cap/program-description2.html.

[14 ] Business Standards and Corporate Governance: Tools and Resources, Corporate Social Responsibility Forum at www.iblf.org/csr/csrwebassist.nsf/content/a1a2c3d4.html#iso.