Assessment of Eco-labelling Criteria Development from a Strategic Sustainability Perspective

Cecilia Bratt*[1]a, Sophie Hallstedta, K.-H. Robèrta,b, Göran Bromana,c and Jonas Oldmarkb - [1] cecilia.bratt@bth.se, +46455-385523

To turn current patterns of consumption and production in a sustainable direction, solid and understandable market information on the socio-ecological performance of products is needed. Eco-labelling programmes have an important role in this communication. The aim of this study is to investigate what gaps there may be in the current criteria development processes in relation to a strategic sustainability perspective and develop recommendations on how such presumptive gaps could be bridged. First a previously published generic framework for strategic sustainable development is described and applied for the assessment of two eco-labelling programmes. Data for the assessment is collected from literature and in semi-structured interviews and discussions with eco-labelling experts.

The assessment revealed that the programmes lack both an operational definition of sustainability, and a statement of objectives to direct and drive the criteria development processes. Consequently they also lack guidelines for how product category criteria might gradually develop in any direction. The selected criteria mainly reflect the current reality based on a selection of negative impacts in ecosystems, but how this selection, or prioritization, is made is not clearly presented. Finally, there are no guidelines to ensure that the criteria developers represent a broad enough competence to embrace all essential sustainability aspects.

In conclusion the results point at deficiencies in theory, process and practice of eco-labelling, which hampers cohesiveness, transparency and comprehension. And it hampers predictability, as producers get no support in foreseeing how coming revisions of criteria will develop. This represents a lost opportunity for strategic sustainable development. It is suggested that these problems could be avoided by informing the criteria development process by a framework for strategic sustainable development, based on backcasting from basic sustainability principles.

Keywords: Sustainability, Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Eco-labelling

 


Assessment of criteria development for public procurement from a strategic sustainability perspective

Cecilia Bratt*[1]a, Sophie Hallstedta, K.-H. Robèrta,b, Göran Bromana,c and Jonas Oldmarkb

Sustainable development requires innovation in, e.g., organizational management, production and business models. Methods are available to stimulate it; however, mainly focused on specific environmental aspects, those are often failing to serve organizations to integrate a strategic approach towards a systems perspective on sustainability, and to understand the business case thereof. This research addresses part of these challenges using case studies from the industry sector, and is guided by a framework for strategic sustainable development including a principled definition of social and ecological sustainability, and generic guidelines for how to approach compliance with such principles. A self-assessment matrix is outlined and tested. Results show that the matrix (i) works to sensitize organizations to an approach that is more strategic and less reductionist and (ii) is easy to comprehend and use. However, it is also concluded that the matrix needs to be equipped with more detailed support for development of systematic cooperation for sustainability.

 

Keywords: Sustainability principles, backcasting, sustainability assessment, product development, procurement.

Sustainable development requires innovation in, e.g., organizational management, production and business models. Methods are available to stimulate it; however, mainly focused on specific environmental aspects, those are often failing to serve organizations to integrate a strategic approach towards a systems perspective on sustainability, and to understand the business case thereof. This research addresses part of these challenges using case studies from the industry sector, and is guided by a framework for strategic sustainable development including a principled definition of social and ecological sustainability, and generic guidelines for how to approach compliance with such principles. A self-assessment matrix is outlined and tested. Results show that the matrix (i) works to sensitize organizations to an approach that is more strategic and less reductionist and (ii) is easy to comprehend and use. However, it is also concluded that the matrix needs to be equipped with more detailed support for development of systematic cooperation for sustainability.

 

Keywords: Sustainability principles, backcasting, sustainability assessment, product development, procurement.

Green public procurement (GPP) has emerged as a policy instrument with a great potential to steer procurers’ and producers’ decisions in a sustainable direction. This potential has been recognized by UN, EU, OECD and national governments, through e.g. programs and national schemes for GPP, including the development of training tools and criteria.
The aim of this study is to assess the process for development of procurement criteria from a strategic sustainability perspective and to describe possible improvement potentials from such a perspective to make this instrument more supportive of sustainable product and service innovation. For the assessment we adapt a previously published framework for strategic sustainable development, including a definition of sustainability as well as generic guidelines to inform strategies towards sustainability.

The case study at a Swedish governmental expert body shows that the criteria development process is well-documented, audited, and transparent and encourages a high level of participation by the members of the working groups. However, the assessment also points to some improvement potentials (gaps). The process and resulting criteria mainly concern a selection of current environmental impacts outside the context of long term objectives. Neither sustainability, nor any other clearly defined long-termed objective is agreed upon, and the criteria are not structured to support procurers and suppliers in a systematic and strategic stepwise approach towards sustainability. And finally, the competence in the criteria development group is not ensured to cover the most essential sustainability aspects.

To improve the criteria development process, a more thorough sustainability assessment is needed as well as communication of clearer objectives, broader competence in the working groups, and more emphasis on the dialogue between key actors.

Keywords: Green Public Procurement, Sustainability, Strategic Sustainable Development, Criteria Development Process

 


 

Eco-labelling criteria development for strategic life cycle management

Cecilia Bratt*[1]a, Sophie Hallstedta, K.-H. Robèrta,b, Göran Bromana,c and Jonas Oldmarkb

Abstract To accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society, changes in consumption and production decisions are crucial. Eco-labelling type I is an instrument with a potential to create incentives for changes towards strategic life cycle management along value chains to achieve products that aid society's compliance with sustainability principles. But the mere existence of this instrument is not enough to utilize this potential. In a previous study, applying a Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development as a foundation for the analysis, we have pointed at deficiencies in theory and process of eco-labelling which hamper cohesiveness, transparency and comprehension. In this paper, we present a prototype criteria development process and discuss it in relation to current processes. From this comparison we conclude that the new criteria development process has the potential to support strategic life cycle management.

Keywords: Strategic Sustainable Development, Criteria Development Process, Eco-labelling, Life Cycle Management

 


 

SUSTAINABILITY SELF-ASSESSMENT SUPPORT

César Levy França, Göran Broman, Karl-Henrik Robèrt and Sophie Hallstedt

Sustainable development requires innovation in, e.g., organizational management, production and business models. Methods are available to stimulate it; however, mainly focused on specific environmental aspects, those are often failing to serve organizations to integrate a strategic approach towards a systems perspective on sustainability, and to understand the business case thereof. This research addresses part of these challenges using case studies from the industry sector, and is guided by a framework for strategic sustainable development including a principled definition of social and ecological sustainability, and generic guidelines for how to approach compliance with such principles. A self-assessment matrix is outlined and tested. Results show that the matrix (i) works to sensitize organizations to an approach that is more strategic and less reductionist and (ii) is easy to comprehend and use. However, it is also concluded that the matrix needs to be equipped with more detailed support for development of systematic cooperation for sustainability.

Keywords: Sustainability principles, backcasting, sustainability assessment, product development, procurement.



 

 

Edit
Share Share