A plethora of sustainability certifications is available for organisations to show independent verification of their commitment to sustainability. Third party verifications can be useful for businesses and consumers, but the sheer number means it can be hard to distinguish between them. Check out our list of certifications most relevant to businesses in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Factors to consider when selecting a sustainability certification:
Which certifications are the most widely recognised in your industry?
Which are the most important certifications included in corporate or council procurement policies?
How much does it cost to achieve certification, in both time and finances? Is this good value for your business?
AsureQuality is a New Zealand Government-owned entity and a leading provider of food assurance services to Aotearoa’s primary and food production sectors. Its people are to connected farmers, growers, manufacturers, and others, across the food supply chain. They share and apply knowledge and insights gained from over 100 years’ experience.
AsureQuality is unique in New Zealand with its end to end focus on the food supply chain. It does this through a combination of auditing, inspection, certification, farm assurance, training, assurance mark traceability, diagnostics and laboratory testing, with an extensive range of domestic and international accreditations and approvals. It conducts more than 100 different types of audits and provides certification services and assurance marks that can verify specific attributes including food safety, organic, animal welfare and sustainability practices.
AsureQuality offers independence of the highest integrity, supporting its partners through trusted food assurance services and helping them to uphold what Aotearoa stands for in food – a higher standard of quality and safety.
B Corporations, or B Corps, is for businesses that balance purpose and profit. The certifications shows a business makes decisions that create positive impacts for its workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
Globally there are more than 3,500 certified businesses from 160+ industries. To become a B Corp, a company must complete the B Impact Assessment (BIA), earn a minimum score of 80 points and have their assessment verified by by the international non profit B Lab.
Biogro is Aotearoa’s largest organic certifier providing certification for more than 830 producers, farmers and manufacturers across New Zealand and the Pacific.
The BioGro logo is the mark of a genuine organic product, providing a guarantee that the product is made without animal testing, genetic modification or the routine use of synthetic pesticides. The BioGro standards also recognise a requirement to reduce environmental impact and consider animal welfare, caring for workers and truthful advertising. BioGro assists producers to meet international organic regulation in key export markets including Europe, Canada, the US and parts of Asia.
BioGro provides four main certification services:
Inputs for Organic Certification
Natural Certification (accredited by NATRUE)
CoGo is a business accreditation programme that awards sustainable and ethical businesses with badges for the good work they are doing. Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the badges reflect sustainable practices in business operations and products that respect people, animals and the planet, such as offering vegan products or paying their workers a living wage.
CoGo shares this good work with consumers on the CoGo app, making it easy for consumers to find and support values-aligned businesses. By joining the programme, businesses feature on the CoGo app, where they can promote their ethical and environmental credentials, connect with customers and other businesses, and work to create a better world.
The programme is currently available for sustainable businesses in most industries, throughout New Zealand and the UK.
Demeter is an international system that certifies food or products that have been produced using biodynamic practices. Demeter New Zealand is an enterprise of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association and certifies producers to the Demeter standards.
Biodynamic practices are organic farming methods that use a number of different techniques that are tailored to individual farms, and focus on the land, crops and livestock as one unit. They ensure that soil quality is maintained, especially on intensively cultivated areas such as market gardens. Farmers or processors have their practices evaluated to determine whether they meet the standards.
Some of the requirements of the standards for becoming a Demeter certified farm include: not using most synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or animal remedies; maintaining biodiversity; using biodynamic preparations; and compost and liquid brews which have had the biodynamic compost preparations added. Demeter operates in 50 countries.
Dow Jones Sustainability Indices
TheDow Jones Sustainability Indices rank the largest global companies based on their sustainable business practices. As well as sustainability, this index looks at the financial returns of participating companies. The companies are ranked based on economic, environmental and social factors and these rankings act as a benchmark for sustainable companies and a platform for businesses looking to increase corporate sustainability.
To be included or to remain in the index, companies have to continually intensify their sustainability initiatives. The index’s ‘best-in-class’ approach means that it only includes companies that fulfill certain sustainability criteria better than the majority of their peers.
The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices family includes the world index as well as indices for North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Korea, Emerging Markets and Australia. The world index was launched in 1999 as the first global sustainability benchmark.
Eco Warranty is an environmental management system standard that is operated by Quality Environmental Consulting Ltd, based in New Zealand. Internationally recognised, it is designed to increase sustainability and lower costs by decreasing waste and inefficiency.
To gain Eco Warranty, a company must follow certain guidelines which include: commitment to care of the environment, continuous improvement, environmental review, training, environmental hazard assessment and environmental planning.
Eco Warranty focuses on the environmental and economic benefits of mitigating degradation. Eco Warranty can also help and train companies that are working towards numerous certifications including, ISO 9001, 14001 and 4801.
Ekos’ overall goal is to respond to the current climate emergency and to assist and enable other organisations and individuals to do the same. It does this by providing carbon emission management services to businesses, individuals and event holders in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. Its certifications cover the measurement, offsetting and reduction of carbon emissions. Ekos links businesses with regenerative forest carbon projects both locally and internationally. These self-sustaining, regenerative forest carbon projects are all locally owned, developed collaboratively and, as much as possible, locally managed.
Ekos Zero carbon
Shows an organisation has measured to ISO 14064-1 and offset 100% of the carbon emissions from its business operations and is committed to making reductions.
Ekos Carbon Friendly
Shows an organisation is taking steps to offset the carbon emissions from applicable business activities.
Ekos Climate Positive
Shows an organisation has measured to ISO 14064-1 and is offsetting at least 120% of the carbon emissions from its business operations and is committed to making reductions.
Ekos Carbon Footprint
Shows an organisation has measured to ISO 14064-1 in order to understand and manage the carbon emission profile of its operations.
EPD Australasia registers and publishes Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Climate Declarations. EPDs are independently verified and registered documents that communicate transparent and comparable data and other relevant environmental information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products in accordance with ISO 14025.
EPD Australasia is an independent framework for businesses in Australia and New Zealand to provide objective, science-based environmental data and other information about their products and services. EPD Australasia is a regional partner of the International EPD® System with over 1,000 EPDs now published from business in 37 countries.
Energy Rating Label
TheEnergy Rating Label gives consumers information on how much energy an appliance uses so they can compare the efficiency of similar appliances. All new refrigerators, freezers, heat pumps, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, televisions and computer monitors available for sale in New Zealand must display the Energy Rating Label, which shows how much energy a product uses per year. The rating system is based on stars: the more stars a product has, the more efficient is it, up to a maximum of six stars.
The stars can be used to compare products that are the same size and have the same function, however the energy consumption figure shows a per annum energy use that can also be used to compare products of a different sizes.
In New Zealand, the Energy Rating Label is run by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) is the country’s only Type I ecolabel – owned and endorsed by the New Zealand Government. Administered by the New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust, the ecolabel was established in 1992 to provide a credible and independent guide for businesses and consumers who want to purchase and use products that are better for the environment. The label gives assurance that a product or service has met internationally recognised, scientifically defensible standards and is environmentally preferable.
A member of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN), the ECNZ label signifies that licenced products and services meet criteria that take a life-cycle approach, from raw materials sourcing, through manufacture and usage, to end-of-life disposal or reuse. Licensed products and services are independently assessed by a third party and reassessed annually.
FairClimateFund wants to demonstrate that the carbon market can benefit the people who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in a fair and effective way. It provides an effective way for organisations, that have a large carbon footprint, to invest in carbon reduction projects with a high social impact.
Together with its partners, FairClimateFund finances and implements climate projects. It focuses on cleaner cooking and reforestation projects. These climate projects reduce carbon emissions and deforestation, and improve the living conditions for people in developing countries. Projects are Fairtrade certified and generate Gold Standard/Fairtrade Carbon Credits. FairClimateFund sells those carbon credits at a fair price to private individuals and companies in Western countries that want to offset the carbon emissions that they cannot (yet) reduce.
Fairtrade serves as an alternative to conventional trade and is based on the partnership between producers and consumers with the goal of empowering workers, improving working conditions and reducing poverty through ethical trade practices. The Fairtrade certification system aims to assure consumers that their purchase meets special social, economic and environmental standards.
Fairtrade is the only global sustainability label that guarantees a minimum price that cover the costs of sustainable production. Through Fairtrade, farming communities also receive an extra premium to invest in social or environmental projects or to put towards improving their businesses.
Fairtrade International is a global multi-stakeholder system that is represented in New Zealand by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand.
Forest Stewardship Council
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. It runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests.
FSC certification creates an incentive for forest owners and managers to follow best social and environmental practices. This incentive brings direct benefits to the forest, such as protecting biodiversity, indigenous peoples’ rights, workers’ rights and preservation of areas of significant environmental or cultural importance. FSC International has branches around the world.
TheGreen Globe standard is a global tourism certification system. It applies to travel and tourism businesses and their supply chain partners. The standard is based on 380 compliance indicators which are applied to 44 core criteria.
The indicators and criteria for Green Globe certification cover the following areas: sustainable management, social/ economic, cultural heritage and environment, with the most weight given to environment. Environmental criteria include: purchasing environmentally friendly materials, regulating water and energy use, being conscious of waste management, and reducing emissions.
Green Globe certification allows businesses to be part of a network of sustainable tourism industries.
Green Star is an internationally-recognised rating system for the sustainable, efficient and productive design, construction and operation of buildings. Version of the tool are also used for fitouts and entire community developments. It measures and independently verifies all types of buildings except for residential homes which are considered under the NZGBC Homestar rating.
To rate the overall environmental impact Green Star considers a number of key criteria including energy, water, materials, indoor environment quality, transport, land use and ecology, management, emissions and innovation. A 4 Green Star rating is considered best practice, while 6 Green Star is world leading.
Green Star helps you save money, create a healthy place for people, minimise your environmental footprint and build a better future for all of Aotearoa.
Green Star is run by the New Zealand Green Building Council and ratings are verified by independent assessors.
Green Tick is a global, sustainability standard for consumer products. It is an independent environmental certification separate from any industry or government guidance. This certification can be given to any product or service anywhere in the world that is operating under the Green Tick definition of sustainability: “operating without permanently damaging the environment”.
There are six different sustainability options: sustainable, sustainable + carbon neutral, sustainable + natural, sustainable + organic, sustainable + GE free, and sustainable + free trader. Green Tick has been a Government-approved sustainability certifier in New Zealand and Australia since 2007.
HomeFit is a straightforward way to check the quality of a home – that it’s warm, safe and dry.
A HomeFit home has been certified to be fit for living. This means the home includes features that make it warm, safe and dry, and more efficient to run. It’s an assessment of health, comfort, energy efficiency and safety, and covers a range of criteria that are essential for a home to be liveable.
HomeFit also includes a higher standard called HomeFit PLUS, for a home that is even warmer, drier, more comfortable and energy efficient. HomeFit Plus homes have more insulation, more energy efficient lights, energy efficient heating and hot water.
If you get a home HomeFit certified, it will also meet the Healthy Homes Standards.
HomeFit is run by the New Zealand Green Building Council.
Homestar is a comprehensive, independent national rating tool that measures the health, warmth and efficiency of New Zealand houses. A home is rated on a scale from 6 to 10.
A new home built only to Building Code would achieve 3-4 Homestar on the scale. A 6 Homestar rating or higher provides assurance that a house will be warmer, drier, healthier and cost less to run than a typical new house built to the building code. A 10 Homestar rating means you’ve built a world leading home.
At 6 Homestar you’ll notice a real difference in warmth, dryness, health and water efficiency. That’s because it’s certified as having better levels of insulation than Building Code requires, moisture-control measures, and water-efficiency measures such as dual flush toilets and low-flow showers.
Homestar is run by the New Zealand Green Building Council.
TheIFOAM Standard is an internationally-applicable organic standard that can be used for certification. It serves as an international reference and inspiration for those developing their national or regional organic standard.
IFOAM-Organics International works as an umbrella organisation for groups involved in the organic sector. Apart from maintaining the IFOAM Standard, IFOAM-Organics International assesses the various different government and private organic standards operating in the world. The standards that have successfully passed the assessment are approved in the “IFOAM family of standards”, meaning that IFOAM-Organics International recognises it to be a trustworthy organic standard.
ISO 14000 is a set of environmental management standards. It provides practical tools for organisations looking to identify and control their environmental impacts and improve environmental performance. ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 focus on environmental management systems. The other standards in the family focus on specific environmental aspects such as life cycle analysis, communication and auditing.
ISO 14001 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It maps out a framework that a company or organisation can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. Designed for any type of organization, regardless of its activity or sector, it can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards. It was founded in 1947 and since then has published almost 24,000 international standards covering different aspects of technology and business.
Living Building Challenge
TheLiving Building Challenge is the world’s most rigorous standard for green buildings. Living Buildings strive for net-zero or net-positive energy, are free of toxic chemicals, and lower their energy footprint many times below the generic commercial structure. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.
There are several types of certification under the Challenge: Living Building Certification, Core Green Building Certification, Petal Certification, Zero Energy Certification, or Zero Carbon Certification.
All employees, whether directly employed or contractors, must be paid the Living Wage
No changes to conditions of employment or working hours to meet the current Living Wage rate
All workers to be provided with access to a union in their place of work
A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. It enables workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society.
Marine Stewardship Council
TheMarine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international, scientific, not for profit dedicated to tackling overfishing and marine habitat destruction, by driving the fishing and seafood industry towards sustainability.
The organisation does this by producing and updating the MSC Fisheries Standard, an internationally recognised benchmark that allows fisheries to have their sustainability assessed on three criteria: stock status, habitat impact, and management. If a fishery is successful and becomes MSC certified, seafood they land can bear the MSC blue fish tick as long as all of the supply chain (processors, retailers etc) meets a second benchmark, the MSC Chain of Custody Standard.
The MSC blue fish tick makes it easy to choose seafood that’s sustainable, traceable, and wild. You can find it on a wide range of seafood in supermarkets, fish shops, and restaurants in more than 100 countries worldwide.
NABERSNZ is a tool used to measure and rate the energy performance of commercial office buildings. Ratings range from 0 to 6 stars with 3 stars considered good, while 5 and 6 stars are awarded for market leading, aspirational performance.
NABERSNZ helps you understand how well you’re managing energy in your building or tenancy. It can also help identify where energy performance can be improved and communicates at a glance your organisation’s commitment to energy management. Better performance means lower costs, increased value, and helps provide a better environment for people to work.
It’s an annual rating to ensure it accurately represents the building or workplace’s current performance, allowing building owners and tenants to keep track, measure the impact of any actions they take, and set targets for future years. It also encourages continuous monitoring and means that when your energy efficiency improves, you’ll be able to prove it.
NABERSNZ is licensed to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and administered by the New Zealand Green Building Council.
Qualmark is New Zealand tourism’s official quality assurance organisation, providing a trusted guide to iconic travel experiences. Owned and operated by Tourism New Zealand and backed by leading industry associations, it provides a star grading system for accommodation providers and a quality endorsement programme for visitor activities, service and transport providers, as an official mark of quality.
Qualmark looks to recognise tourism businesses that are delivering a holistically sustainable experience. Following an evaluation, a Qualmark business will receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award based on their performance under the Sustainable Tourism Business Award Criteria.
Accommodation businesses will also receive an official star rating that denotes the quality of the facilities on offer.
Rainbow Tick is a certification mark for organisations that complete a diversity and inclusion assessment process. It tests whether a workplace understands and welcomes sexual and gender diversity and involves an on-going quality improvement process.
Rainbow Tick show employees, customers and the wider world that a business is progressive, inclusive, dynamic and reflects the community where it is based.
Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand
Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) is an industry initiative aimed at providing a ‘best practice’ model of environmentally responsible practices in the vineyard and winery. SWNZ is widely recognised as a world leading sustainability programme and was one of the first to be established in the international wine industry in 1997. Today, 96% of New Zealand’s producing vineyard area is SWNZ-certified.
SWNZ uses a framework of six sustainability focus areas that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals: waste, water, pest & disease, soil, climate change, and people. The programme is based on continuous improvement and adherence to a set of standards. An external audit structure is used to ensure winegrowers meet programme requirements and implement sustainable practices.
Toitū Envirocare leads positive change through a system of world-leading environmental programmes. Based on science and backed by proof, its certifications provide the tools to understand and reduce their environmental impact.
Toitū Envirocare can also help with setting science-based targets, scope and boundary assessments, value chain screening and carbon inventory verifications. Initially developed for New Zealand business needs, the programmes now serve more than 400 clients worldwide. Wholly owned by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, a Crown Research Institute, Toitū’s origins are in science, but its future is in the sustainability of our economy, our people, and our land.
Toitū carbonreduce certification is proof an organisation, farm or product is measuring and managing their carbon footprint. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are measured annually, and the inventory is independently verified against an international standard to ensure it is accurate and complete.
The organisation, farm or product provider must develop plans to continually manage and reduce their emissions.
Toitū climate positive
Toitū climate positive certification is proof an organisation or product is taking science-led, meaningful climate action for a decarbonised future, through measuring, reducing, offsetting beyond neutrality, and improving climate impacts. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are measured annually, including a full value chain assessment, and the inventory is independently verified against an international standard to ensure it is accurate and complete.
The organisation or product provider must develop science-aligned reduction targets and plans to continually manage and reduce their emissions. Each year, unavoidable emissions are offset through the purchase of quality carbon credits to achieve a 125% negative balance. Finally, each year an additional contribution is made to help others reduce emissions, adapt to climate change, or support a just transition.
Toitū carbonzero certification is proof an organisation, farm or product is measuring, reducing and offsetting a carbon footprint. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are measured annually, and the inventory is independently verified against an international standard to ensure it is accurate and complete.
The organisation, farm or product provider must develop plans to continually manage and reduce their emissions. Each year, unavoidable emissions are offset through the purchase of quality carbon credits to achieve carbon neutrality.
TheToitū enviromark programme ensures organisations are meaningfully managing their environmental impacts by developing, implementing and maintaining a robust Environmental Management System (EMS) for their significant environmental impacts. The EMS is independently audited annually to ensure it meets applicable regulations and standards.
An organisation can achieve one of three Toitū enviromark certification levels – bronze, gold or diamond. Toitū enviromark diamond meets and exceeds the requirements for ISO 14001.
Did we miss any? Please let us know if you think we should add any certifications to this guide.