Ethical Purchasing

Social Accountability 8000 Introduction & Basic Training comes to Vancouver – join us!

Are you interested in becoming a leader in social supply chain compliance? Interested in a way to both enhance your career and help your organization stand out as a leader in corporate social responsibility?

Social Accountability International (SAI)We have just the thing! Reeve Consulting is excited to be partnering with Social Accountability International (SAI) to deliver SA8000 training August 22-26 at SFU Harbourfront in Vancouver.

SA8000 is the leading global social accountability standard for decent working conditions and labour rights. Overseen by SAI, SA8000 is an auditable certification standard system based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and a number of International Labour Organization conventions. Today 1.3 million workers are employed in over 2,300 SA8000 certified facilities in 62 countries.

Develop your expertise in managing CSR

The SA8000 course provides practical knowledge on the main issues of social auditing and performance, using the SA8000 management systems approach. More specifically, the training covers:

  • Key concepts and background on social compliance in the supply chain and social auditing, and how they can help you improve your CSR program
  • Understanding the elements of the SA8000 standard and how they can be used to enhance your supply chain efficiencies and social compliance
  • Reviewing solutions that will help you overcome common compliance challenges
  • Effective auditing techniques that can be used to verify your supplier’s compliance with international labour standards
  • Effective methods for managing risk in facilities, or across an entire supply chain, which can result in cost savings for your organization and your suppliers

The guidance document, in-depth case studies, virtual factory tours and highly interactive group exercises allow for hands-on learning and practical application methods and tools.

The course concludes with a comprehensive exam and students who successfully pass are awarded a Certificate of Successful Completion.

Who should attend?

Targeted at a wide audience, the course has previously drawn auditors, social compliance staff, sustainability directors, brand managers, retailers, manufacturers, government officials, academics, trade union and NGO representatives among others.

Whether you’re currently employed as a social compliance auditor or aspire to be more active in this field, this training is aimed at enhancing your expertise in managing corporate social responsibility performance and supply chain efficiencies by aligning them with international labour standards.

Vancouver mountains

Flickr / D'Arcy Norman

This is the only SA8000 Basic Training to be held in North America in the remainder of 2011. We encourage you to sign-up now to reserve a seat.

  • Date: August 22-26, 2011 (Monday-Friday 9am-6pm)
  • Location: SFU Harbourfront Centre (515 West Hastings St.), Vancouver, BC
  • Price: $1995 (credit card or wire transfer accepted)
  • Online registration: http://www.socialfingerprint.org/enrollment.html (enter the coupon code ‘ReeveVan2011’ and receive a discount on the Thursday night networking event – details below)

Networking Event – Thursday, August 25

red wine glass

Flickr / jenny downing

In conjunction with the SA8000 training, Reeve Consulting will be coordinating and hosting a dinner and networking evening on Thursday, August 25.

The evening will featuring a high-level guest speaker who will share their experience in managing a leading global supply chain compliance program. This event will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with sustainable purchasing professionals from across North America and to learn from others experiences.

Stay tuned for details as we’ll be announcing them here on our blog as the date approaches.

GoodGuide.com for Sustainable Purchasing Programs

Good Guide

Our clients regularly ask us where they can find a list of green products or sustainable suppliers. While there is no silver-bullet-one-stop shopping list for ethical and sustainable options, there are an increasing number of online tools to help buyers evaluate the environmental and social attributes of products.

While these tools are user-friendly and convenient (often accessible from mobile devices) they’re only useful if they draw from credible data.

Recently at Reeve Consulting we’ve been investigating GoodGuide.com, an online database of information on the health, environmental and social impacts of over 100,000 consumer products.

While the GoodGuide is mainly targeted to consumer audiences, we see some value in this tool for corporate purchasers, and even more so for staff at large in organizations with a sustainable purchasing policy.

Where we see this tool could be particularly useful is for staff making smaller, un-tendered purchases. For example, an administrative employee buying office or cleaning supplies may find it useful to compare attributes of one product to another to determine which is greener or healthier.

What is the GoodGuide?
GoodGuide is an online platform that allows user’s to search specific products to find a rating based on health, environment and society measures attributed to the product or manufacturer. An overall rating for each product is provided, and user’s can drill down for specifics on health and sustainability features by clicking on a rating for more details.

Screen shot of Dawn ultra-concentrated dish soap on GoodGuide.com

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 10 means the product rates very well relative to other products in a category or other companies in an industrial sector.

Similar to the EnerGuide label on appliances, GoodGuide doesn’t approve or certify products as meeting specific sustainability standards, it only provides information that can be used to compare one product to another.

Highlights of the GoodGuide
A major strength of the GoodGuide is that it’s easy to use. Primarily, directed at the consumer market, with a mission to help consumers make purchasing decisions that reflect their preferences and values, the tool has been set-up with a user-friendly interface and colour-coded rating system. There’s also a GoodGuide’s smart phone app, which allows one to access the full product database from the shopping aisle by simply scanning product barcodes.

Mobile barcode look-up; Flickr / Lauren C.

Another benefit purchasers will find with GoodGuide is that it covers many more products than those qualifying for ecolabels. At the same time, if a searched product does feature an ecolabel, this information is shared in GoodGuide’s product description.

Regarding the data behind the ratings, GoodGuide conducts regular stakeholder consultation and relies on third-party experts to develop and continuously improve their rating and metrics system. Their executive team and advisors are leading academics in product lifecycle analysis and other related fields, which brings some added credibility to the tool. Further, GoodGuide clearly outlines their data quality control procedures and acknowledge where there are gaps in data and value judgments.

B CorporationAs an organization, GoodGuide is certified as a “for Benefit” Corporation by BCorporation, a recognized body which provides third-party verification of GoodGuide’s sustainability and transparency performance. It requires that GoodGuide meet a comprehensive set of transparent social and environmental performance standards. As a result, GoodGuide has made their metrics and ratings system publicly available, which provides legitimacy to their rating system for products.

Areas for consideration
Recognizing that the GoodGuide is a relatively new tool, we’re impressed by the large number of products that have been rated to date and the level of information we’re able to access. As the GoodGuide continues to develop, there are a couple areas where we feel the tool could be strengthened.

From early use with the tool we found that the transparency of raw data behind the ratings could be improved. While it appears you can take an extra step to contact GoodGuide and request detailed data for a given product, we’d prefer that the data be easily accessible, in real-time, while using the tool online.

Another area where we feel there’s some room for improvement is in GoodGuide’s social ratings. Currently the tool appears to take corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance for companies and apply it at the product-level. For example, a company’s support of local community groups could be recorded as a social impact of a product produced by that company, even if the two aren’t directly related.

We believe this approach could be improved, and that presenting the social impact of a product requires a look at the social impacts of the given product’s supply chain. We encourage GoodGuide to develop social supply chain criteria (similar to the Fair Trade model) rather than apply general company CSR performance to individual products.

No replacement for ecolabels, but a useful tool
Overall, companies and organizations with a sustainable purchasing program will find GoodGuide useful for initial product research and informing less formal purchasing decisions.

While use of the GoodGuide can’t replace consideration of ecolabel certifications for mandatory product specifications, it may facilitate initial product research and help engage more staff by making daily sustainable purchasing decisions easier.

Let us know in the comments section below if you’ve had a chance to use the GoodGuide. If so, what has your experience been? Where did you find it useful? What do you feel could be improved?

Canucks’ Power Play takes aim on Sustainability

Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks

Flickr / pointnshoot

What a tremendous third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and fantastic game on Sunday. In case you missed it, our local Vancouver Canucks were victorious with a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, putting them just 1 win away from the Stanley Cup Finals! It’s all people can talk about around here.

The team at Reeve is similarly caught up in all things Canucks, so we’re focusing this week’s post on the team’s recent commitment to the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the environmental impact of professional sports while engaging fans with environmental education.

Mass sporting events and sustainability

The Green Sport Alliance (GSA) was started in 2010 with founding members from six different North American professional sports teams – the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and the Seattle Sounders FC (MLS). Over the past year staff from these teams and venues have been focusing on sharing experiences, lessons learned and creating practical metrics.

Rogers Arena Vancouver Canucks warm-up

Flickr / Dahlstrom

At Reeve Consulting we feel the Canucks support of the GSA is great news. A main take-away from our experience working with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games is the tremendous power of mass sporting events to engage a broad, global audience on key sustainability issues. From green building projects to the stories of sustainable athlete gifts and locally sourced victory bouquets, the sustainability initiatives of the Vancouver Olympics were a valuable side story to the 2010 Games.

While we welcome a North American network that blends environmental responsibility with professional sport interests, the Canucks and other teams need to walk the talk and show results.

What could sustainability success look like for the Canucks?

We’ve seen some commendable initiatives from professional teams like the Seattle Mariners, who among other projects have dramatically increased their stadium waste diversion rate and reduced their water usage. The Philladelphia Eagles have ambitious plans to power Lincoln Financial Field solely with on-site renewable energy by September 2011.

Building off our work with VANOC and more recently with the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we have plenty of ideas for how the Canucks could make a real impact with their sustainability measures.

Vancouver Canucks merchandise

Flickr / Cindy Andrie

From introducing a comprehensive zero waste program in Rogers Arena, to taking a closer look at food and catering services, energy and water use, there’s plenty of potential for making the team’s operations more eco-efficient.

We would encourage the Canucks to view sustainability as more than environmental initiatives, and consider opportunities for further social investments. Canucks merchandise should be made free of child labour, and the team should be looking closely at the labour practices employed in their merchandising program supply chain. Closer to home, possible opportunities lie in structuring employment opportunities for people with disabilities, profiling local suppliers, and getting high profile Canucks to act as “green ambassadors” in the community.

We believe in our Canucks and are confident they will triumph in the end; they already have a fantastic image in the community through their valuable sponsorship and involvement with charities that support children’s health, wellness and education.

Green Sport Summit, Portland, August 1

Reeve is planning to attend the GSA’s inaugural event, the Green Sport Summit being held August 1 in Portland, and looks forward to hearing more about the plans for this group. Following the event, we’ll be sharing our insights here.

Go Canucks Go, CBC

Flickr / roland

While the full impact of green sport initiatives is yet to be seen, we feel there’s a lot of opportunity given the diversity of audiences sport draws.

In parting, we’ll leave you with this thought – 26.5 million, or 80% of Canadians watched some part of the Canadian gold medal hockey game during the Vancouver Winter Olympics – imagine the potential for public engagement if Team Canada’s victory had been accompanied by a call to action for Canadians to make a simple environmental commitment!

Go Canucks go!

New Report Reveals Trends & Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing and Ethical Sourcing

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing recently released the first annual Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report, the most comprehensive discussion of municipal sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing in Canada to date.

Beyond revealing key trends across the country and valuable best practices, the report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs.

Complete with a listing of common program barriers and recommended solutions, the report is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable purchasing programming.

>> Download the Summary Report.

The full report is available from Reeve Consulting by request at tim@reeveconsulting.com or 604-763-6829.

Status of municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing has become a hot topic in the municipal sector. Few other internal sustainability initiatives can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, economic development, staff engagement, risk mitigation, improved operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

While comprehensive sustainable purchasing is still a relatively new field for local governments, municipalities are finding the support they require through the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). Formed in 2010 as a pilot project, the MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs.

The Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report documents the great wealth of expertise shared by these and other local governments, pulling from them practical insights for municipalities looking to advance their sustainable purchasing practices.

Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Key findings of the study show that municipalities continue to give priority to environmental issues over social or ethical considerations. The study also found that achieving some noteworthy early returns on investment, particularly a strong financial return, is key for generating momentum and further senior support for the advancement of sustainable purchasing practices. Municipalities say that their efforts are focused on developing realistic annual action plans, implementing policies or guidelines and collaborating with others to share experiences and resources.

Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Readers wanting to fast track their efforts will find great value in the report’s identification and description of the 10 Program Success Factors required to maximize the impacts and benefits of sustainable purchasing.

Among these elements are following a written action plan, defining a clear sustainable purchasing policy and product guidelines, developing supplier scorecards and Codes of Conduct that outline fair labour standards, providing adequate training for purchasing and staff and engaging directly with suppliers in sustainability conversations.

These and more best practices are discussed in detail in the summary and full report.

Municipalities team up to overcome the challenges

The release of the report also marks the first year of full-fledged programming for the MCSP, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2010 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report. This includes seeking goods and services that conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste, as well as increasingly using scorecards and eco-labels to evaluate suppliers based on multiple social and environmental measures.

Key activities and tangible deliverables for the MCSP in 2011 include:

•          4 best practices peer exchange teleconferences

•          2 technical training webinars on focusing specific best practices

•          The 2011 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report

•          Individual customized action planning sessions for each municipality

•          Access to a helpful resource library

Fast Track your Municipal Sustainable Purchasing Program – join the MCSP

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at tim@reeveconsulting.com or Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

The MCSP project is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Whitehorse and Victoria and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

This Mother’s Day, ask for fair flowers

Kevin McCarty, a consultant with Reeve Consulting, recently wrote the following article for the Commentary section on the straight.com

photo courtesy of Kevin McCarty

A day or two prior to Mother’s Day, flower shops across Canada will sell more flowers than any other time of the year, apart from Valentine’s Day.

To meet this demand, women and men are working nonstop, often without fair compensation and safe working conditions, in greenhouses across Ecuador and Colombia, two of the leading suppliers of cut flowers to the Canadian market.

Recently I visited Cayambe, the heart of Ecuador’s flower industry, and learned that many people working in this industry are reporting serious labour rights violations.

Cayambe is a small city that lies on the equator at the foot of Cayambe Volcano high in the Andes, north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Due to the constant high position of the sun and the relatively cool mountain temperatures, this region of Ecuador has been a leading producer of some of the world’s biggest roses and tallest carnations since the mid 1980s.

In Cayambe, I met Gladys, a mother of three…read more…

Canada votes: party platforms pass the buck on responsible purchasing

Flickr / alexindigo

While the economy and healthcare are receiving the most airtime during this Canadian federal election, polls show that the environment remains a top election issue. However, meaningful discussion of environmental concerns has been seriously lacking within the overall debate.

After reviewing the environmental and sustainability components of the main parties’ election platforms (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Green Party) we were sadly disappointed to see little mention of sustainable purchasing as a key component of their strategy (we did find a short section at the end of the Green Party’s Vision Green – section 6.4 to be exact)

Not surprisingly, all the parties have environmental promises in the area of action against climate change and supporting cleaner forms of energy. While support for a green economy varies across the parties, all show favour for employment in the environmental sector, whether it’s through investment in renewable energy, clean technologies, energy efficiency or related research and development.

Missed opportunity: ethical and sustainable purchasing investment

The Canadian Government spends over $20 billion per year on goods and services on behalf of Canadians – a huge opportunity to contribute directly to a green economy.

Flickr / waferboard

Beyond supporting environmental protection, purchasing decisions that consider labour conditions and support a local economy would round out a purchasing program to its fullest triple-bottom line potential. Among the advantages of an effective ethical and sustainable purchasing program are enhancing the image of the national government as a sustainability leader, mitigating legal and brand risks, reducing costs by selecting products with less waste, energy consumption and product related health concerns.

While the government of Canada currently has a green purchasing policy, Reeve Consulting knows from our experience working with the public sector across Canada that policy alone does not necessarily equate to significant impact and benefits. What’s needed is a clear plan for implementation, and perhaps most importantly, training and staff capacity to ensure success. Basically, a level of investment that would fit well in the environment section of an election platform.

Large investment for even larger returns

While we fully acknowledge it takes resources to achieve an effective ethical and sustainable purchasing program, the potential results are huge.

Few other programs can directly contribute to multiple sustainability agendas around climate leadership, energy efficiency, waste reduction, local economic development, strategic sourcing and government employee engagement.

Moving in the right direction

We realize that transitioning $20 billion in spending to responsible and sustainable procurement program takes time. However we can’t help but notice the lucrative opportunities to support green products and technologies that continue to pass the government by, including low hanging fruit in the form of the G20 dignitary gifts, and more complex, but full of potential, stimulus spending in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Flickr / Muffet

Adoption of the Government of Canada’s green purchasing policy is a good first step and suggests Ottawa is on the right track, but we’d like to see far more – from both the current Conservative Government (oops! Harper Government) as well as those that would like to assume a leadership position within parliament.

Be sure to get out and vote on May 2 and next time you run into your MP raise the issue of responsible purchasing and sustainable supply chains

Sustainable Procurement Program for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics steps into the Starting Gate

A busy Moscow street

I recently returned from my second trip to Moscow as part of Reeve Consulting’s work advising the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee on the design and development of an Environmental and Sustainable Procurement Program for the next winter Olympics.

Building on our experience as the lead consultant on the award-winning BuySmart Program for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC), Reeve Consulting became engaged with the Sochi 2014 organizers in mid-2010. Following approval of the project by the Sochi Supervisory Board last summer, our work began in the fall, including a project scoping trip in late-November to define the design of policies, procedures, scorecards, metrics and implementation plans

We returned to Moscow in February to present the recommended green purchasing and sustainable sourcing program to key stakeholders in Procurement, Licensing, Sustainability, Environment and Planning departments. I also met with key Functional Areas across the Organizing Committee to identify high priority environmental and sustainable purchases. These include the opening and closing ceremony costumes, victory bouquets, gifts, Olympic medals, as well as more functional items like office supplies, paper, temporary power generators, waste and food contracts.

Implementation Strategy

There are 3 key elements in the Sochi 2014 implementation strategy:

Flip chart sheet featuring elements of the process design

1. Applying tools and supplier scorecards to RFP documents to reward environmental and sustainable innovations from suppliers. Organizers will continue to use selection criteria such as price, quality and service when choosing vendors through a competitive bid process, but now there is a formal and systematic way for sustainability to be factored into supplier selection; a potential “tipping point” in which suppliers secure contracts.

2. Targeting “high profile” procurements and working directly with key Functional Areas and the official supplier community to maximize sustainability benefits. Examples of such opportunities include food and catering services that use local food, subcontracting opportunities for local businesses in cleaning, recycling, FSC paper products and printing services, legacy recycling and waste collection containers and more.

If supplier scorecards and sustainability specifications in RFP documents (element #1 above) are like “procurement fishing nets”, then Sochi can expect to catch lots of salmon through its procurement processes. But some fish are too big for the nets: healthy local food, compostable dinnerware, medals, official gifts, vehicles, temporary power. These are the really Big Tuna’s, and these are the procurements that are on the high profile watch list (element #2). These key opportunities need to be tracked individually to ensure they are landed.

3. Introducing a social compliance program for licensees. During my trip the key executives endorsed a social compliance program for licensed merchandise, including policies prohibiting forced and child labor for all merchandise displaying the Olympic mark. Further, the project stakeholders reviewed a draft Licensee Code of Conduct and compliance procedure for current and future licensees. By introducing requirements for factory audits and ensuring licensees are meeting ethical and environmental standards, the Sochi 2014 organizers have initiated a program very similar to VANOC’s Buy Smart program.

3 Years and Counting

I experienced classic winter in Moscow

Just like our first trip the days were long, the work was challenging, and I continued to be impressed by the dedication, professionalism and passion of the Sochi 2014 staff.

Our recent February trip also marked a number of significant Olympic milestones, including the start of the three-year countdown to the opening ceremonies and the beginning of test events in some of the recently completed competition venues

Three years may seem like a long time – but in fact, for the Organizing Committee, the planning and project definition phase is very nearly complete. Procurement activity will greatly increase in the next 12 months. The team of Licensees will be filled and production of branded merchandise will begin to significantly ramp up. Now is the time for the Sochi Buy Smart project to leverage the brand, economic, and green benefits associated with environmental purchasing and sustainable sourcing.

How to navigate the field of ecolabels to improve your ethical and sustainable purchasing practices

With close to 400 ecolabels available in the marketplace, selecting the ones that fit your sustainable purchasing program (or simply a weekend trip to the grocery store) can often seem confusing, frustrating or even risky. And since ecolabels aren’t created equal when it comes to environmental claims and third party verification, corporate purchasers and consumers often fall victim to “analysis paralysis”; potentially giving up altogether on their intentions to buy green due to their confusion and uncertainty of real benefit.

In Reeve Consulting’s first “how to” post, we’ll be examining how this sometimes confusing world of ecolabels can be broken down into smaller, more ‘bite-sized’ pieces to help you make your procurements green and at the same time feel confident you understand the environmental benefits you’re receiving. We’ll also provide links to a number of useful resources to further assist with your environmental and sustainable purchasing.

A quick introduction to ecolabels

Ecolabels provide information about the environmental and social impacts associated with the production or use of a product or service. They’re a helpful tool for individual consumers, but also for corporate purchasing staff as they reduce the onus of creating environmental or sustainability product specifications. They can also offer credible third-party verification of environmental claims.

Types of ecolabels

While the bad news is that there are hundreds of ecolabels to choose from, the good news is that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a system whereby the universe of ecolables can be broken down into three more manageable categories. These are:

  • Type I Ecolabels: ISO 14024 – Ecolabels in this category are based on environmental criteria selected by an independent third party entity. Criteria are typically developed for a specific product type (for example, personal computers or monitors). Products must be certified to these criteria through a third party entity to be allowed to display the ecolabel.
  • Type II Ecolabels: ISO 14021 – Type II Ecolabels include any kind of sustainable declaration made by manufacturers, importers, distributors or anyone else who is likely to benefit from the product’s environmental claims. Also referred to as “self-declarations”, ecolabels in this category are usually not independently verified by a third party entity. They should however meet ‘truth-in-advertising’ or other product claim standards.
  • Type III Ecolabels: ISO 14025 –These ecolabels include comprehensive data lists that give environmental and social information on a product throughout its life-cycle (similar to nutrition labels on food).  Type III independent bodies set the categories of information and verify the data given, but no specific criteria have to be satisfied in order to qualify for certification. This category of ecolabels is also referred to as “Environmental Product Declarations” (EPD).

While all three types of ecolabels provide relevant information and are worth considering, Type I ecolabels are most widely available, easy to identify and certified by a third party entity. Type II ecolabels are viewed as less credible since they’re not independently verified and aren’t required to meet specific standards. For example, popular terms like “natural” found on product labels are wide open to interpretation. Type III labels on the other hand often involve thorough lifecycle assessment of product materials and third-party verification. The challenge with Type III ecolabels is that they’re not widely available in North America.

Segmentation by product category, industry and geography

Beyond these categories, ecolabels can be further segmented by product category, industry and geography. Put another way, when purchasing a given product one doesn’t actually choose from 400 ecolabels, but a smaller subset that applies to the product in question.

Ecolabelindex.com

A useful tool for determining the ecoloable type and category as outlined above is ecoloabelindex.com, an online database that offers the largest global directory of ecolabels. The site offers a free search tool that anyone can use to look up a specific ecolabel and find out the range of product it covers, verification process (e.g. third party verified) and region where it’s available.

Recently ecolabelindex.com started offering an additional paid subscription service that provides users with access to over 60 data points on each ecolabel, including life cycle coverage, standard development, conformity assessment and more. Pro users also have access to improved search functionality including the ability to filter ecolabels by sector, region and audience, compare ecoloabel attributes side-by-side and integrate the Index data with one’s own tools and platforms through the Ecolabel Index API. Subscription tiers are available for small and large teams, all include a free 7-day trial run. We suggest you check out the full details on the Eco Label Index website.

Read more

Who set the standards for ecolabels? Reeve Consulting Blog

Are there too many ecolabels? Reeve Consulting Blog

Sustainable purchasing and ecolabels Product with Purpose Fairware Blog

The Sins of Greenwashing: home and family edition 2010 TerraChoice & Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

Beyond the sexy consequences part 2: giving chocolate for Valentines Day

This post builds on our Valentines Day post from last year: Beyond the Sexy Consequences of Giving Flowers for Valentine’s Day.

Flickr / Stewart

It’s Valentines Day. Before you present that fancy-looking box of chocolates to your love, ensure there’s a fair trade logo on the package. With chocolate supply chain concerns becoming more mainstream, it’s likely your special someone has read an article, scanned a blog post, watched a news story or catchy You Tube video outlining the ethical and ecological concerns in this industry.

Take for example an article running in this weekend’s Globe and Mail that covers the status of cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s two largest producers of cocoa. According to the article, both countries are on a path to “ecological implosion”. Forests are being cut down to make room for more crop land, existing tree stocks are aging, soil is depleting, temperatures are rising and rainfall has become erratic. Add to this concerns of child labour and you have one very un-sustainable and un-ethical product.

Fair Trade Cocoa

Flickr / jetalone

One way to remove the exploitive elements of chocolate from your gift is to buy official fair trade certified products. Doing so provides you with the assurance the cocoa production was independently monitored to ensure farmers received a reliable and living wage for their work. Fair trade also encourages sustainable farming.

Cocoa lends itself well to fair trade. It’s one of the few global commodities grown predominantly by small holders on plots of three acres or less. By meeting fair trade standards, small producers receive a higher price for their crops. Through additionally organizing into co-operatives, they can benefit from social premiums associated with fair trade projects to invest back into their communities for schools, roads and other initiatives.

Innovative Fair Trade Resources

To help you make the right decision this year, we’ve collected together a number of innovative fair trade chocolate resources.

  • The Good Guide, a product rating database for health, environment and social impacts, recently announced a partnership with Fair Trade USA around their  new chocolate rating category. Available through a smart phone app, the Good Guide can be referenced from the store aisle. Check the rating on that box of chocolate before you purchase it.
  • If you’re looking to step outside the box this Valentine’s Day, take a look at this green gift guide from Treehugger.com. Set-up as a slideshow, the

    Flickr / ndrfww

    guide highlights gifts that are “useful, thoughtful and – best of all – sustainable”. View the gift guide HERE.

  • We were impressed with this fantastic infographic from Ethical Ocean which outlines the status of fair trade chocolate and its benefit to world producers. View the infographic HERE.

Play Fair 2012: Advocating for workers’ rights in London 2012 and Olympic supply chains

Flickr / Michael Francis McCarthy

Millions of people are employed in the global supply chains that produce souvenir Olympic apparel and athlete uniforms. Through the Play Fair 2012 campaign, a consortium of unions, advocacy groups and non-profit organizations have come together to advocate for the rights of these worker’s.

Building on the original PlayFair 2008, the 2012 campaign is asking organizers of the London 2012 Olympics and global sportswear brands to ensure internationally recognized labour standards are upheld in the production of all materials with the Olympic logo. These include the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Conventions and the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code – standards encompassed by the ILO’s concept of Decent Work.

Progress to date: London 2012 and the International Organizing Committee

In addition to outlining a full Sustainable Sourcing Code and Diversity and Inclusion Business Charter, the London organizers have included the labour standards in the Ethical Trading Initiative base code in their contracts with suppliers. Play Fair 2012 is asking the commitment to ethical sourcing go further, by including stronger labour standards, transparency in factory auditing and a clear course of action for workers reporting abuses.

More than pressuring London 2012 organizers, the Play Fair campaign is asking the International Organizing Committee to promote workers rights in all future Olympic events. The IOC is being asked to include respect for workers’ rights in the Olympic Charter and Code of Ethics as well as in all contracts with companies supplying the games.

playfair2012.org

The PlayFair 2012 website features resources, news stories, event listings as well as a number of informative videos (including a particularly entertaining spoof on setting the world record for hat wearing). Site visitors can participate in the campaign by sending an electronic message to major brands of the Olympics, asking them to raise the bar on workers’ rights. UK-based supporters can also participate in Workers’ Rights Days, a series of free workshops, panels and interactive sessions focused on educating people on workers’ rights in apparel factories around the world.

Pressure is mounting on London and future organizing committees (e.g. Socchi, Rio de Janeiro) to continue the responsible sourcing work started in Vancouver. This is a large topic and complex field.  Reeve Consulting will be actively monitoring developments in ethical and sustainable purchasing for Olympic Games and updating our readers as London 2012 approaches.