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In recent years, numerous sustainability standards and eco-labels (sometimes referred to as sustainability labels, sustainability certification or ESG labels) have emerged to recognise certain environmental, social and governance (ESG) characteristics. The guide "Sustainability standards and labels" shows you how to choose the right standards and labels in line with your corporate strategy.

Against greenwashing and for more credibility

Embedding ESG in corporate strategy is more important than ever before. However, the growing ethical and economic interest in greater sustainability also increases the risk of greenwashing. Against this backdrop, it is essential for companies to be credible when communicating their ESG measures. Appropriate standards and ecolabelling can be an effective means of achieving this. 

We are already aware of more than 300 of these worldwide, each with a different focus. This makes it difficult both for companies to select the most suitable ones for their needs and for consumers to understand the meaning of the various quality labels. Last but not least, appropriate certification requires time, money and management resources.

Keep an eye on your target group, industry and expenditure

So what should we look out for? In any case, companies should proceed carefully when making their selection and consider standards as well as labels as part of their overarching ESG strategy. Our guidance focusses on the following six dimensions:

  1. Make sure you have the right target group: standards and labels can be used in both B2B and B2C contexts. Check which target group you want to reach and choose accordingly. 
  2. Many standards and labels focus on very specific materials and corresponding risks. Check in which area you want to demonstrate particular sustainability and keep an eye on the relevant stakeholders and their priorities here too. 
  3. Make sure you have the appropriate scope of certification and choose from standards and labels relating to the product level, process level or company level. 
  4. What is prospective certification based on - self-assessment or regular audits by third parties? Always keep an eye on the effort that certain labels mean for your company.
  5. Some standards and labels are limited to certain industries and sectors, while others are completely independent of these. Check what makes sense for your company.
  6. The reputation and significance of certificates can vary from region to region. Keep this in mind in order to achieve the greatest advantage for yourself when making your selection.

How we can help you

KPMG accompanies you. We recognise that every company is unique and pursues its own ESG goals. For this reason, our advice is always tailored to your individual needs:  

  1. We support you in developing or refining your ESG strategy.
  2. We advise on identifying the role of sustainability labels in an existing ESG strategy.
  3. We support you in choosing the right label for your specific requirements.
  4. We guide you through the certification process.
  5. We help you integrate sustainability labels into your brand positioning.
  6. We check the disclosures in the annual report.

Please feel free to contact us.