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The Pro Planet Label and the REWE Group Sustainability Council

Mainstreaming Sustainable Products and Services

The market for sustainable products and services is growing. Environmental and socio-economic factors are changing the competitive landscape for corporations. Sustainable product and service design is becoming a new point of leverage for brands that aim to retain competitive advantage in the coming years. In this regard retailers, manufacturers, and producers are beginning to understand sustainable products and services as a framework for driving growth, increasing shareholder value, enhancing stakeholder satisfaction and protecting and enhancing environmental and socioeconomic standards. Accordingly, many stakeholders have begun to seek out new innovative approaches that go beyond a “technology push” or a “market pull”.

REWE Group and Sustainability Assessment

REWE Group, a major German retailer, has enhanced the sustainability of its operations by introducing the Pro Planet sustainability label. REWE Group employs over 300,000 staff and offers products and services at supermarkets, specialty stores (e.g. electronics, DIY stores) and travel & tourism. Labelling products and services’ sustainability based on scientific evidence and stakeholder perception is one of REWE’s key interests.

Assessing Products: Sustainability Hot Spots Analysis

During the first phase of the project, the CSCP and the project partners developed a Sustainability Hot Spots Analysis (SHSA) tool. The SHSA tool assesses life-cycle, environmental, social, and consumer aspects of products and services. The life cycle covers the product from raw material extraction to the end-of-life (e.g. recycling or waste disposal). Due to its flexibility and semi-quantitative approach, the tool can be applied to many different product groups from food to electronics, textiles or furniture. For example: in the case of a cotton T-Shirt, the analysis would include environmental and social/health aspects during cotton growing, textile production, retailing and logistics, the use phase —e.g. washing, drying—and the recycling or waste disposal phase.

Verifying Results: The REWE Group Sustainability Council

The CSCP hosts a sustainability council to obtain stakeholder input on the project. Council members are drawn from different organisations including consumer groups, environmental, and social civil society organisations and will advise the REWE Group on the Pro Planet sustainability labelling process. The first line of products labelled with the Pro Planet Label were launched at the end of 2010. Initial Pro Planet labelled product offerings included strawberries, several types of fish, paper-based products such as copy paper, and clothing.

Background

The project began in early 2009 and is being conducted in cooperation with the German retailer REWE Group.