ISEAL unveils new tool for buyers to challenge the label

As a full member of the The ISEAL Alliance, the 4C Association is pleased to see the launch of the “Challenge the Label” website with downloadable tools that helps companies choose credible sustainability labels for their products.

More and more products on supermarket shelves bear sustainability claims, promising everything from biodegradable household cleaners to carbon-neutral sugar. But with over 400 ecolabels on the market (according to the Ecolabel Index) it can be difficult for any company to know which to trust, given the array of sustainability promises, claims and language found on products.

Companies are today more worried than ever about risks in their supply chains, especially in light of such calamitous events as the collapsed factories in Bangladesh, or the scandals that shatter consumer confidence such as the horsemeat scandal in Britain. Many business leaders are calling for a simple way to choose and/or develop sustainability claims and labels that can be trusted.

For the last eighteen months, the ISEAL Alliance led a conversation with experts including companies, standards-setters and government specialists to agree on the five universal truths of a credible sustainability claim or label. They determined that the sustainability claim must be clear, accurate and relevant, and backed up by a system that is transparent and robust.

Buyers can use the Challenge the Label tool to understand sustainability claims and become aware of the sort of questions they should be asking of ecolabels.

Challenge the Label has been designed to encourage buyers to looks deeper into the sustainability claims they encounter and to feel confident that what appears on the label is credible. By providing an easy to follow set of questions, a set of five truths, as well as other resources, the initiative will help build awareness about what is behind sustainability claims and allow company buyers to choose sustainability partners and suppliers that are right for their sustainability goals.

Karin Kreider, Executive Director of ISEAL and a leading expert on credible ecolabels, said: “It’s a jungle of sustainability claims and labels out there and this makes it confusing for businesses who are trying to find the right suppliers and partners for their objectives. ISEAL developed ‘Challenge the Label; because we have been defining credibility in standards and labels for more than a decade and we wanted to create something that would point out a few simple truths of credible claims, but also bring together a wealth of additional resources and tools for companies to dig even deeper and support their own credibility.”

With sustainability claims and labels emerging in multiple sectors, from renewable energy and plastics to recycling and tourism, the Challenge the Label initiative can be applied to any claim or label, whether B2B or B2C, that focuses on sustainability in some way. Its five universal truths capture, at a broad level, what a credible label or claim will look like, and the entire Challenge the Label initiative encourages companies to dig deeper and ask important questions of their sustainability partners. It can also provide guidance for a company in developing their own claims and labels.

The Challenge the Label initiative focuses on the five universal truths of a sustainability claim or label. These are:

Is it clear?

Is it relevant?

It is accurate?

And is it backed up by a system that is transparent and robust?

Visit for more information, and detailed examples and resources for each of the five truths. For more on ISEAL’s work on credible claims and for a list of the experts on the steering committee for this project visit