World Panel
Viewpoint13 July 2020

The Future of Sustainability Certification: Micro-Certification?

Sustainability in Hospitality

— 14 experts shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Willy Legrand , Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University
Aurora Dawn Benton
Founder & CEO, Astrapto

We can learn from how other sectors are grappling with this. After I read the question, I went to my pantry for a selection of items with various certifications - an average of 4 per product. Some labels I always look for (Certified Organic or Humane), others I try to find (B Corp), and others aren't necessary but serve as a trust-building bonus (labels related to allergens or a hodgepodge of ingredient specific ones). In my research on food startups with social and environmental missions, I heard the continual tension (based on budget/resources) between the label they wanted because it represented their ethos or origin story and those the consumer recognized and demanded. You can guess what won the day. 

Does the mere presence of labels convey trust or do I, as a consumer, need to be familiar with each one? And, like food, are there a few most people recognize and seek out and the rest would only matter to those who care deeply about a particular aspect? Can one certification automatically convey others? In food, Certified Organic (USDA, at least) means it's automatically non-GMO (but note you'll often see BOTH on a package because of consumer expectations and price justification). Many 'big' certs really do/can cover the same criteria in the micro certs; it's a matter of interpretation, audit, and enforcement. More questions than answers but let's apply best practices from other industries as they show us how customers recognize, process, and act on the presence of certifications. 

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