The World Sustainability Organization (WSO) has announced the start of an outreach campaign in Hungary to help the countryʼs food producers meet rising market demand for legitimate environmental action, the WSO told the Budapest Business Journal.
The WSO operates “Friend of the Sea” and “Friend of the Earth” programs, which certify seafood and agricultural products, respectively, for sustainable practices. Companies must pass a strict audit to meet the requirements for certification, which allows them to display the “Friend of the Earth” or “Friend of the Sea” eco-label on their products.
The audit process involves consultation with stakeholders, an onsite audit and continuous annual recertifications. The company must demonstrate a commitment to preservation and protection of the ecosystem. This includes breeding and fishery management practices. Chemicals used in the production process must also meet sustainability criteria. Energy use, waste management, regulatory compliance, chain of custody, and corporate social responsibility are also evaluated by the auditor.
Globally, more than 900 companies in 70 countries have products with such certification, but there are no Hungarian certified products or brands so far. Even so, WSO says several brands in Hungary, such as cosmetics brand Oriflame, have expressed a commitment towards environmental protection in this way, and many products available on the Hungarian market (such as Omega-3 capsules) are certified.
“We are truly at a turning point, worldwide, in terms of consumer awareness of sustainability as it affects the food they eat,” says Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea. “Now, food producers in all the world can avail themselves of this growth opportunity that also happens to benefit the planet we all share.”
“Rising consciousness aside, people may be skeptical about the inflation of sustainability self-claims and greenwashing,” Bray adds. “The World Sustainability Organization now provides a way for consumers to immediately spot and be able to choose products and services respecting the marine environment or land habitat. We offer a credible and effective way for farmers, food companies and seafood producers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable management practices.”
Both certifications can also be granted for other products and services with a potential impact on the marine habitat and environment. Examples include UV creams, as well as cosmetics and nutritional products featuring Omega-3 fish oil. Cruise ship lines (also on rivers such as the Danube), restaurants and aquariums are also eligible for certification.