Results of a survey show how the Guidelines improved users’ understanding of product sustainability information and helped organizations to make changes in practices.
28 September 2020
  • Consumer Information for SCP

A year after the completion of the road testing of the Guidelines for providing product sustainability information, UNEP under the One Planet network Consumer Information Programme collected information on how road testers experienced the application of the Guidelines. The objective of this survey was to assess the impact that the Guidelines have in the provision of product sustainability information. The answers presented in the document were collected over a period of 3 months (from April to June 2020) through a dedicated Google forms survey. The survey assessed the immediate steps that 14 private sector organizations took after applying the Guidelines, the main priorities that were identified, reasons for making (or not making) changes, and which type of changes were initiated or implemented.

On the one hand, it is shown that companies and labelling schemes made various changes in practices as a result of testing the Guidelines, particularly by partnering with other organizations to improve the provision of information, making changes to marketing campaigns and websites, and improving products’ visual identity. For some of the respondents, the learning acquired through the application of the Guidelines was used to build more awareness of product communication with partners, vendors and other stakeholder forums. In addition, the Guidelines helped organizations to communicate better with their customers, giving insights into how to communicate on other sustainability claims the company wants to develop. 

On the other hand, the organizations still need to create better communication platforms to engage consumers more effectively. The majority of respondents did not consider the development of different communication approaches to interact with consumers, despite the relative ease of implementing these changes. The Fundamental Principles of Reliability, Relevance, Accessibility, Transparency and Clarity were the most commonly addressed, whereas the Aspirational Principles were addressed by a smaller proportion of organizations. This can be explained by the fact that Aspirational Principles are for information providers to go beyond the Fundamental Principles and to continuously improve sustainability information over time. 

To learn more about how the Guidelines informed the provision of product sustainability information in these organizations, download the survey

Call to Action

If you are interested in self-assessing and improving the way you are communicating with consumers about product sustainability (through marketing claims, labels, voluntary standards, product declarations, etc.), our self-assessment tool can help you! The tool, which is available in English and Spanish, serves as a checklist following the Guidelines’ 10 principles and allows you to analyse one specific product’s sustainability information (a claim) of your choice (existing or in development) at a time.

The Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information

The Guidelines aim to set a common ground for effective product sustainability information to consumers. The document includes a comprehensive set of high-level principles for users to follow, and guidance on how to apply them. They cover fundamental and aspirational approaches and can be applied in developed and developing countries, and by companies of all sizes. The report and more information about our work around the Guidelines can be found on our Product Sustainability Information Hub.

  • Consumer Information for SCP