Sustainability is an extremely broad concept that is both used and abused, blurring the distinction between real and bogus sustainability. The many labels – often commercial – that claim sustainability contribute to this. Interface, the world’s largest designer and producer of modular floor covering, has been a leader in the field of sustainability for many years. The company wants to put an end to greenwashing by focussing on facts and results instead of just talking about the subject.
We have initiated a survey among purchase managers into what they know about sustainability labels. The results underline the impression that purchasers are being misled by these labels. Meetings have been held with civil servants and politicians with the intention of making objective sustainability criteria a leading factor. A coalition of market parties who are thinking along the same lines has been formed, and it has made its voice heard in the media and through a meeting in the Nieuwspoort press centre.
The discussions, the coalition, the media attention and the meeting all helped to put the subject on the agenda. As a result, various key opinion leaders have used the media to express their dislike of commercial sustainability labels. Policy-makers and politicians are becoming increasingly critical of the existing jumble of sustainability labels, with the result that leading parties such as Interface are receiving more recognition by the authorities in the form of tenders.