With almost every company nowadays using greenwashing words like sustainable, eco-friendly, biodegradable, and nontoxic to describe products, it's getting more complicated to separate the wheat from the chaff. But a new certification will accredit the true leaders, adding a layer of transparency and setting a higher standard for corporate responsibility.
Officially launched on Monday, Climate Neutral is a nonprofit program to help companies measure, reduce, and offset their full carbon footprint. And come 2020, companies who achieve net-zero are promised a Climate Neutral Certified label for packaging, hangtags, websites, and other marketing materials—like a "Certified Organic" sticker on a banana.
“BioLite started measuring and offsetting our carbon footprint in 2015,” BioLite CEO Jonathan Cedar said. “Through that experience, we came to realize that achieving carbon neutrality is faster, cheaper, and easier than the common perception. Flash forward to 2018 and our friends at Peak Design reached a similar conclusion, asking ‘why aren’t more companies doing this?’"
That was the impetus for Climate Neutral. BioLite and Peak Design first introduced the idea to other brands at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in June. BioLite, Peak Design, and Avocado are the three certified brands so far. Thirty eight others—including Klean Kanteen, LifeStraw, Kammok, Miir, Rumpl, Sunski, Gear.com, and Tentsile— have signed commitments to monitor their carbon emissions in 2019 and start offsetting in 2020.
Peter Dering, CEO of Peak Design, says this time next year, he's not sure if there will be 400 or 4,000 brands certified. But he hopes the "label becomes so ubiquitous that governments feel the political freedom to make it law that companies need to take responsibility for their carbon."
Climate Neutral's launch falls in the middle of the Global Climate Strike, when millions of Americans are demanding that lawmakers address climate change. According to a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 8 in 10 Americans believe that human activity is fueling climate change.
Researchers say solutions to reverse the climate crisis include depending more on renewable energy, planting trees, reducing food waste, and limiting methane releases.
“Consumer brands today offer many credentials to a prospective buyer, but none of them directly addresses the brand’s climate impact,” Climate Neutral CEO Austin Whitman said. “Even worse, most brands don’t know how much they contribute to climate change. Climate Neutral exists to address both of these gaps so that we can make headway in the climate crisis.”
Once a company calculates how much energy it uses—Peak Design offset 20,000 tonnes of carbon for $60,000 in 2017, according to The Denver Post—Climate Neutral will help certified companies trade in their carbon credits or connect them to resources dedicated to capturing methane gas from landfills or restoring degraded forests.
"You can afford to do it. You can't afford not to," creators of Climate Neutral say.