Completing an accreditation scheme is a great idea if you want to give your customers, stakeholders and employees the confidence that you’re doing sustainability right. A certificate, membership, pledge or badge will no doubt improve your company’s branding and give you access to new customers.
However, with so many schemes out there which ones are best for you and your company?
We’ve compiled a list of the best accreditation schemes to help you decide which are the most appropriate for your business.
|Accreditation Scheme (click to find out more)||What is it?||Who is it appropriate for?||Strengths||Limitations||What are the requirements for joining?|
|B Corp||A certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance.||Small to medium businesses that have the time and resources to complete a rigorous accreditation or those that are already doing the work to become net zero.||An advanced accreditation.|
Access to an international community of B Corps.
A well-respected accreditation.
|A rigorous, time-consuming but worthwhile assessment.|
A fee depending on your revenue.
|You have already made good progress on your net zero journey.
Complete an assessment.
An annual fee once requirements are met.
|Planet Mark||A certification recognising your commitment to continuous improvement; measuring and reducing your business’ carbon emissions, energy and water consumption, travel and waste.||Small businesses wanting to commit to reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions.||A Plant Mark certification is a recognisable sign of a company’s sustainability progress.||Cost. Starting from 1,500 pounds a year for small businesses.||A commitment to continuous improvement.
An annual fee.
|A resource platform that helps you to reduce your carbon footprint.||Small businesses looking for tools and high impact guidance.||Access to a range of resources.||A desire to start your net zero journey.|
|Business Ambition for 1.5°C||A platform helping you to reach science-based targets around GHG emissions.||Small businesses wanting help to reduce their emissions in line with climate science.||Helps you to follow clearly-defined targets based on science.||Not quite a certification but helps you to measure your GHG emissions.||A commitment to stick to targets.
|SME Climate Hub|
|A platform helping you to halve your emissions by 2030 and strive to achieve net zero before 2050.||Small businesses wanting to take action and get access to tools and resources.||Access to tailored tools and resources.|
Will be recognised by the UN Race to Zero campaign, giving your business greater visibility.
|A commitment to take action.|
|Net Zero Pub / Net Zero Bar||A certification scheme from Net Zero Now for pubs and bars that verifies they have:|
i) calculated full value chain emissions
ii) set a reduction target aligned with SBTi ambition criteria
iii) have a reduction plan in place to achieve the target
iv) have purchased certified credits equivalent to their full value chain emissions v) communicated transparently about their footprint, target, plans and offsets.
|Small businesses in the hospitality sector.||Robust and credible, endorsed by key sector stakeholders and providing a full guide to going net zero.|
Protocol and Playbook freely available to all.
Simple web based software to enter accessible operations data and APIs in development to simplify the process further.
|Fee payable to access full reports and get certified.||A commitment to action. To be certified as a net zero business you need to be a net zero business: Calculate - Mitigate - Compensate - Communicate.|
|ESGmark||A certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance.||Any size business willing to show commitment to improving their environmental, social and governance responsibilities.||No application fee. |
A free report listing improvements whether you pass or fail.
ESG made simple. Great for companies that don’t know where to start.
You are welcomed into a community of likeminded businesses.
|An annual fee depending on your revenue.|
You are required to gather information to evidence your current business practices.
|A willingness to improve your businesses ESG commitments.
Transparency throughout the entire certification process.
An annual fee (can be paid monthly) if you pass the certification.
|A membership that helps you set targets to address scope 1 and 2 emissions and join a network of like-minded businesses.||Small businesses wanting to commit to make authentic climate action.||Access to resources, workshops and trainings.|
|Not as rigorous as B Corp but still a fantastic choice if you’re wanting to make meaningful change.||A commitment to reduce GHG emissions.|
|Low Carbon Leaders|
|A membership that allows you to join an inspiring network of low carbon leaders.||Small businesses wanting to adapt their business and join a collective climate action group.||Allows for networking and collaboration.||You have already made progress on your net zero journey and want to join a collective of other businesses doing the same.|
|B1G1||A membership that helps you to integrate giving into your business.||Small businesses wanting every purchase their customers make to be a force of good.||Gives customers a clear indication of how using your company positively impacts the world.||Doesn’t directly reduce your company’s GHG emissions but positively contributes to the wider world.||A commitment to reduce GHG emissions.
An annual fee.
|1% for the Planet||A movement inspiring businesses to support environmental solutions through memberships and everyday actions.||Small businesses wanting to donate 1% of their profits to environmental non-profits.||A reliable way to donate to important causes.||A commitment to integrate giving into your business.
A membership fee.
|Pledges and Campaigns:|
|Million Tree Pledge||A pledge to be part of a network planting over 1 million trees each (drawing down significantly more carbon than you’ve emitted yourself).||Small businesses wanting to go the extra mile and take real action on the climate crisis.||Be part of a scheme that can make real change.|
|Doesn’t help to directly reduce your GHG emissions but instead offsets them by planting trees.||A commitment to donate (through sales) to plant trees.
|The Climate Pledge|
|A pledge to be net zero by 2040 and committing to regular reporting, implementing decarbonisation strategies and using credible offsets.||Small businesses aiming to be net zero by 2040.||Improves branding||A pledge you can sign once you have done the work with the above certification schemes.||You have already made progress on your net zero journey and want to join a collective of other businesses doing the same.|
|future Net Zero Standard with CBN Expert |
|A campaign to help you record where you are, monitor your progress and benchmark yourself against your sector.||Small businesses wanting guidance on starting their net zero journey.||Helps you to measure your carbon footprint.||A desire to know your carbon footprint and make changes.|
|Race to Zero|
|Membership for a UN-backed global campaign that you can join by applying to certified partners.||Small businesses wanting to develop their net zero network.||Be part of a UN-backed global campaign and network.||Complete an accreditation scheme such as B Corp, Business Declares or Planet Mark before joining the campaign||You are already committed and are planning to sign up to one of Race to Zero’s partners.|
|Badges (please note once you have completed or joined the above certifications, memberships or pledges you can add them as badges too):|
|Website Carbon||A website carbon badge showing the carbon emissions of your web pages and website.||Small businesses wanting to understand and show consumers the carbon footprint of their website.||Helps to reduce your web carbon emissions and to increase awareness of the wider issue of website carbon.||A commitment to present your website’s carbon emissions.|
|Alternative: Use the Sustainable Development Goals as badges|
|Add the SDGs as badges to your website.||Small businesses wanting to show how their efforts are aligned with the SDGs.||Will show consumers how your business is aligned with the SDGs.||A commitment to follow the SDGs.|
Before you decide on an accreditation scheme it is important to consider your business size and what stage of your net zero journey you are on:
- If you have 0-5 employees or are just starting off, consider Small99 or SME Climate Hub.
- If you have 5-10 employees and have made a start, consider Planet Mark or B Corp.
- If you have 10+ employees and have already made good progress then consider B Corp.
Please note this is a general recommendation and you should pick the scheme(s) that are most appropriate for your business. You may also pick more than one, for example, once you have completed a certification you can look at joining a campaign or signing a pledge.