Green Achiever Scheme: some concerns registered and answered

February 18, 2008

Green Achiever registered status logo

Previously I expressed concerns about the Green Achiever Scheme and the requirements to reach its first level, “Registered”. So I wrote to the Green Achiever Scheme to put my questions.

Mandy Stoker, Director of E4environment Ltd, replied promptly. Firstly she gave a useful clarification of what the whole Scheme is about, and then answered some of my specific concerns.

We have worked with many companies over the years (25 years for me personally) helping them to understand legislation and finding ways in which they can improve their credentials. Of late, the world seems to have turned its attention to environmental issues and the knock on effect for many businesses is that they are now scrabbling around trying to answer to consumers and suppliers about their environmental credentials. Many small companies are not in a position (or indeed do not need to) to put in a formal environmental management system, indeed what the customer/stakeholder actually wants to know is “what are you actually doing to reduce your environmental impact?”.

This scheme is about making it straightforward for the consumer to understand exactly what a company does. When a company gets to Silver stage, the company will be audited and be expected to have complied with all relevant legislation for example (amongst other things). If it does not comply it does not get Silver. Gold means that a company has elected to make its own improvements which will be declared and audited. The progress and achievements of the company can then be followed. Clarity for all.

On some of my more specific points…

I was cynical of the amount that a company has to to do to reach the Green Achiever “Registered” level and gain the right to use the Green Achiever “Registered” Logo. Mandy assures me that they “put a great deal of time and effort into this which as you rightly point out costs a company nothing and costs us a lot,” regarding the free environmental health check.

Okay, that reassures me about Green Achiever‘s efforts, but … I suppose I’m still cynical about what companies may go on to do with the “Registered” logo when using it in their marketing.

Mandy says,

Whilst you may think that someone registering is not worthy of recognition, I would disagree. Even in this day and age a majority of (small-medium) businesses are not interested in the environment and have no idea what legislation they should be complying with. Many will talk about it but few will have a clue where to start.

By the very fact that someone in an organisation has found this scheme of interest, made the effort to register – (and get information about the legislation they should be complying with) is a big step in the right direction. These companies (and we speak to all of them) are keen to do something. This should be encouraged.

Now put like this, I do indeed see the point. I have had experience of attempting to interest people in accessible web design and usability. And merely getting people interested in doing anything more than what they are doing is a significant step, especially if there’s no obvious gain.

I was concerned that registration on Green Achiever’s public database, which presents “Registered” as an “Award” level, would be effectively meaningless to most people. Mandy says, “Please note that on the database where the companies are listed it actually spells out what a company has achieved.”

About issuing your own logo to your own standards, Mandy says,

Why not? This is effectively a membership to our club – the standard is set by legislation rather than us – i.e. do they comply or not. The rest is set by their own ambition which can then be judged by the customer via the website.

I’m going back for some clarification on this!

I’m still inclined to a concern about calling registration an “Award” at all. Even though Green Achiever may put a lot of work into this, does a company deserve an Award? But? In the end I suppose, it’s more about whether it’s successful in achieving green awareness – and ultimately action – than semantics.

If Green Achiever can show they’re pushing the issue in the right direction!

Update – 2008/03/03: In response to some more questions, a follow-up… Green Achiever – Silver in sight.

This entry is part of the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.

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