Verification of green claims: A Matter of Credibility & Compliance

The purchasing power of consumers and companies can be a powerful force to drive the transition towards a more sustainable economy. Ensuring customers have access to credible information about the environmental impacts of products and services is essential. Independent verification and/or validation of green claims is an important step towards credible and transparent communication. With a global team of environmental verifiers, we are here to help you leverage the environmental performance of your product while ensuring compliance with the applicable regulations.

Increased transparency and credibility of environmental claims

Compliance with consumer-protection regulation and anti-greenwashing initiatives

Alignment with international standards

Verified data to meet customer information needs

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When is independent verification of a green claim beneficial?

Companies benefit significantly from seeking independent verification of their environmental claims for various reasons:1. Credibility and Trust:

Independent verification adds credibility to environmental claims, establishing trust with consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. It signals a commitment to transparency and accountability, reducing skepticism and concerns about greenwashing. As verified claims typically adhere to international standards, they are more likely to achieve recognition on a global scale.

2. Risk Mitigation and regulatory Compliance:

Verification helps companies mitigate the risks associated with inaccurate or exaggerated environmental assertions. By avoiding misleading information and unfair commercial practices, companies reduce the potential for lawsuits, regulatory scrutiny, and reputational damage. In certain cases, verification by an independent third-party before making a claim is a legal requirement. In case of product-related claims, specific rules may apply when importing them to into specific jurisdictions.

3. Competitive advantage:

Verified environmental claims provide a competitive edge in the market. Companies can differentiate themselves by showcasing their commitment to genuine sustainability, attracting environmentally conscious customers and investors. This also applies in the B2C-market: independent verification assures consumers that a company's environmental initiatives are legitimate, fostering confidence and loyalty.

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What is verification of a green claim? What is validation of a green claim?

Verification of a green claim is a systematic and independent assessment to ensure that the environmental statements made by a company or organization are accurate, truthful, and in compliance with established standards and criteria. The basis for the claim and its assessment is historical data.

Validation of a green claim involves a similar process, but evaluates the reasonableness of the assumptions, limitations and methods that support claims about the outcome of future activities. Typical examples of claims that require validation rather than verification are forecasts and projections.

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Types of green claims

Green claims can be related to a specific product, product group, service, project or (parts of an) organization. They can be aimed at consumers, b2b-customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

Based on the aspects of environmental impacts they address, we can distinguish the following types of claims:

  • ​​​​Carbon Footprint and Emissions:- Carbon Neutrality: Claims related to offsetting or balancing greenhouse gas emissions.- Emission Reduction: Statements about efforts to reduce specific emissions, such as CO2 or other greenhouse gases.- Avoided emissions: claims about the avoidance of emissions by comparing actual emissions to alternative scenarios, e.g. different production methods
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:- Renewable Energy Usage: Claims about the percentage or amount of energy sourced from renewable sources.- Energy Efficiency: Statements regarding efforts to improve energy efficiency in operations or products.
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling:- Zero Waste: Claims about initiatives to minimize or eliminate waste generation.- Recyclability: Statements about the recyclability of products or packaging materials.
  • Circular Economy:- Closed-Loop Systems: Claims related to the implementation of circular economy principles.- Product Life Extension: Statements about efforts to extend the lifespan of products through repair or refurbishment.- Claims related to the amount of raw materials stemming from recycling
  • Sustainable Sourcing and Supply Chain:- Sustainable Sourcing: Claims related to the use of responsibly sourced materials or ingredients.- Supply Chain Sustainability: Statements about efforts to ensure sustainability throughout the supply chain.
  • Biodiversity and Conservation:- Habitat Protection: Claims related to protecting or restoring natural habitats.- Biodiversity Conservation: Statements about efforts to preserve or enhance biodiversity.
  • Health and Safety:- Environmentally friendly products: Claims about products that have minimal impact on human health and the environment.- Toxicity Reduction: Statements about efforts to reduce or eliminate toxic substances in products.
  • Water Stewardship:- Water Quality Protection: Claims about activities to protect and improve water quality.- Water Conservation: Claims about efforts to reduce water consumption or implement water-saving technologies.- Access to Clean Water: Statements about initiatives to provide communities with access to clean and safe water.

The above list is by no means complete and is indicative only.

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Prerequisites for verification and/or validation

While specific requirements apply to different types of environmental claims, a number of general principles apply in almost all cases:

Robust environmental claims should adhere to specific requirements and best practices to ensure accuracy, transparency, and credibility. These requirements are often outlined by various standards, guidelines, and regulatory bodies. Here are key considerations for making robust environmental claims:

1. Truthfulness and Accuracy:- Claims should accurately represent the environmental performance of a product, service, or organization.- Avoid exaggeration, overstatement, or misleading information.

2. Substantiation:- Provide evidence or documentation to support environmental claims.- Data and methodologies used in making claims should be transparent and verifiable.

3. Relevance:- Ensure that the environmental claims are relevant to the product or service and have a meaningful impact on the environment.- Consider so-called trade-offs: negative impacts triggered by positive impacts elsewhere

4. Specificity:- Clearly specify the environmental benefits or attributes being claimed.- Avoid using generic terms without providing specific details.

5. Comparative Claims:- If making comparative claims against other products or services, ensure a fair and accurate basis for comparison.   - Avoid selective or misleading comparisons.

6. Life Cycle Thinking:- Consider the entire life cycle of the product or service, including raw material extraction, production, use, and end-of-life.- Environmental claims should not focus solely on one phase of the life cycle. If a life-cycle perspective is not possible, clearly identify which parts of the life-cycle are considered in the claim.

7. Transparency: - Disclose relevant information about methodologies, assumptions, and limitations used in making environmental claims.- Provide clear communication about the environmental impacts addressed.

8. Adherence to Standards:- Comply with recognized environmental standards and regulations applicable to the industry.- Ensure that claims align with established benchmarks and guidelines.

9. Regulatory Compliance:- Ensure that environmental claims comply with relevant laws and regulations.- Be aware of regional and global regulations that may impact the validity of claims.

By adhering to these requirements, companies can make robust environmental claims that contribute to building trust with consumers, investors, and other stakeholders, while also promoting genuine environmental stewardship.

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Green Claim Verification and/or Validation Process

In the first step, we want to learn about your company, your organization, your needs and expectations. Once the objectives of the verification, including the applicable standards and specifications, are defined, you will receive a quote for the pre-assessment.

During the pre-assessment, we work together to establish the exact nature of the engagement, the scope of application, the objectives and requirements. Based on the results, DQS prepares the calculation and plans for the verification of the environmental claim(s). This information is incorporated into a detailed proposal tailored to your individual needs. All relevant services and applicable audit and verification criteria are specified and agreed upon.

The verification team checks the claim on the basis of the previously prepared plan, applying the applicable standards and specifications. This includes collection and review of evidence, site visits if necessary, and reconstruction and analysis of estimates, assumptions and calculations.

If the team identifies deficiencies, these must be demonstrably corrected before a verification statement and an expert opinion can be issued. The verification result including all findings will be presented to you during the final meeting. If necessary, action plans will be agreed upon.

After verification, the results are evaluated by the independent certification body of DQS. If all requirements are met, you will receive a verification statement for the corresponding products, services or organization. The verification statement confirms the plausibility of the claim on the date of issuance – unlike certificates, they have no defined period of validity and no expiry date.

For the verification of an updated report or declaration, for example in case of changes in service processes, manufacturing methods or material composition of components, a re-verification can be performed.

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What is the cost of a verification of a green claim?

The cost of a verification of a green claim is determined by various factors. As there is a wide range of possible claims, with various degrees of complexity and diverging scopes, we invite you to request a tailor-made quotation, so that you know exactly what to expect.

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Why DQS is the perfect partner for verification of environmental claims

As an experienced verification and validation body, DQS is uniquely positioned with its comprehensive technical, regulatory and industry expertise. Our audits and verifications are a thorough and profound examination of your company and your products. This is what you can expect from us:

  • Individually calculated offers
  • Flexibility in the contract period
  • Auditors with strong dialog skills and in-depth knowledge of standards and industries
  • Verification statements with international acceptance
Carolin Nguyen
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Your contact Carolin Nguyen

Do you have any questions? Please feel free to contact me.