Get low carbon labels and sustainability certifications

You can use low carbon labels (otherwise known as eco labels or green stickers)
and sustainability certifications to show that your products:

● meet environmental standards
● are reducing emissions

According to a 2020 study by the Carbon Trust, there is a growing global demand
for product labels that show carbon emissions.

The Carbon Trust reported that 64% of UK consumers feel better buying from
businesses they know are reducing emissions (up from 53% in 2016).There are a number of product labels that certify low carbon emissions or other beneficial environmental actions.

Contents

  1. Get low carbon labels
  2. Measure your carbon footprint
  3. Get your product certified
  4. Get other sustainability certifications
  5. Avoid making misleading environmental claims
  6. Get local support and funding

Get low carbon labels

Low carbon labels show that your product or service is reducing emissions through:

  • low energy use
  • not using toxic substances
  • using recyclable packaging
  • protecting natural resources or habitats

How low carbon labels help consumers and your business

Low carbon labels make it easier for consumers to:

  • choose more environmentally friendly products
  • check how sustainable your business is

Your business can use low carbon labels to:

  • design better products
  • identify waste in the production process
  • lower costs and improve efficiency
  • attract investment

You’ll need to do both of the following so you can use low carbon labels on your products:

  • measure your product carbon footprint
  • get your product certified

Measure your carbon footprint

You need to measure and certify the carbon footprint (greenhouse gas emissions) of your product to use low carbon labels on your products.

You can do this either:

  • across your organisation
  • for individual products

Use lifecycle product footprints to measure emissions

You can measure your product carbon footprint by measuring the lifecycle emissions of the product.

Lifecycle product footprints measure:

  • the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by developing a product
  • emissions across the product life cycle, from raw materials to when it gets to the consumer or end of product life
  • emissions in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e)

Check scope to get the right certification

You need to check the scope (otherwise known as boundary) associated with your product carbon footprints so you can get the right type of certification.

These scopes are:

  • cradle-to-gate for business-to-business (B2B) products – this measures total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials and product manufacture up to the factory gate (before it is transported to the consumer)
  • cradle-to-grave for business-to-consumer (B2C) products – this measures total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through the product’s manufacture, distribution, storage, usage and end-of-life stages

Get your product certified

You can certify your product in different ways.

How you certify your product will depend on both the:

  • type of claim you’re making
  • level of carbon reductions you’re trying to make

You will usually need to pay an organisation that manages certification and labelling to get your products certified.

Be aware that labelling organisations can use different international standards to measure the product life cycle.

International standards used to measure product life cycle include:

You cannot use the EU Ecolabel Scheme to certify your product if you are:

  • in England, Scotland or Wales
  • trying to certify products and packaging placed on the European Economic Area (EEA) or Northern Ireland (NI) market on or after 31 December 2020

Find out more about using the EU Ecolabel Scheme for NI businesses.

 

Get other sustainability certifications

You can also build your reputation as a business by getting environmental certification for:

  • environmental management systems
  • use and sourcing of raw materials
  • building design and energy performance

Get certification for an environmental management system

Use the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001 so you can develop an effective environmental management system (EMS).

Find more sustainability certifications

You can find more sustainability certifications (otherwise known as accreditation standards and schemes) by searching online.

You might have to pay for sustainability certifications.

Avoid making misleading environmental claims

You must not make misleading environmental claims about your products or services.

Under consumer protection law you can face civil action or enforcement orders if you make misleading claims.

Your environmental claims should be:

  • truthful and accurate
  • clear and unambiguous
  • easily accessible
  • not leaving out or hiding important relevant information
  • fair and meaningful
  • applying to the full life cycle of your product or service
  • substantiated by evidence

Find out more about making environmental claims on GOV.UK.

Get local support and funding

You might be able to get support and funding so your business can:

  • reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions
  • develop and certify greener products

Support and funding can also give your business:

  • grants with no payback requirement
  • funds to match what you put in (up to a total amount or a percentage of costs)
  • loans with low or no interest
  • free expertise for energy assessments

How much funding you can get will depend on:

  • how big your business is
  • where your business is

Find green business grant programmes in your region.

Take part in the UK Net Zero Business Census
Take part in the UK Net Zero Business Census