When Control Union has been established? Could you tell us more about the expertise of Control Union in the field of sustainability certification?

Control Union Certifications Germany got established in 2008, at the time it was a locally operating organic certification body, that became part of the global Control Union group. Since then, the company could expand its expertise in various industries, such as sustainable textiles, palm oil traceability, and forestry certifications. Within the global CU Group, the Berlin office became the leading office for biofuel and biobased products, with its recognition as Certification Body (CB) for ISCC and REDcert.

What is the process of sustainability certification? Could you briefly explain what are the steps behind the final certification?

The most important is actually the part before the certification starts. Companies need to identify the need for any certification to maintain or increase their long-term position in the market. Either as they are driving sustainable development, or as they aim to be a key supplier of an important customer. These are key drivers in sustainability certifications. The next step is to select the best suitable certification schemes. Over the last decades, the amount of options has increased so much, that this selection became very difficult, and in quite some cases this results in multiple certificates to facilitate various customer needs.

When the right scheme is selected, the company shall familiarize itself with the scheme requirements and assess if a specific action is needed to comply. When that is done, the company can apply for that scheme with a certification body that is recognized/licensed to audit and certify under that scheme. After having a signed agreement, an auditor will visit the company to assess if the company meets the scheme requirements. The judgement of the auditor will be reviewed by a certifier, who confirms that this is the case (4 eyes principle), and who issues the certificate. In most cases, an annual audit will be planned to evaluate the compliance of the company with the scheme requirements.

In Control Union there are 9 Certification Programs on Plastics & Packaging. Could you tell us more about them?

Also in plastics and packaging, we see the number of schemes increasing. In the selection process, it is important to identify what kind of certification is preferred, roughly all 9 programs cover one or multiple of the below segments:

  • The certification of biobased raw materials;
  • The certification of circular/recycled raw materials;
  • The recyclability of packaging materials;
  • Certification of plastic collection and recycling under a plastic crediting mechanism

After identifying which approach(es) fit the company, the best suitable program can be chosen. I am happy to guide any company further in this process.

Biobased products are becoming more and more popular. How do you think they will develop in the next 5 years?

Their popularity will increase as there are more and more drivers in society to find alternatives to fossil-based products. Whilst transitioning, it is however very important that these alternatives are produced sustainably and suitable to use circularly. The biobased sector will however need to avoid significant land use by its raw materials and shall avoid any impact on carbon stocks in soils, or other intense processing. Furthermore, they can best be produced from raw materials that are wastes or by-products, as that has a lower contribution to the depletion of the limited resources we have.

What is the role of the Control Union in the SUSTCERT4BIOBASED project?

Our role is to bring in our experience as a certification body in the biobased sector. In our evaluation of certifications, it is helpful to bring in this experience, as it gives insights into how requirements are actually evaluated by auditors. The monitoring system that will be developed by this project, in collaboration with Star4BBS and Harmonitor will also be tested by us in 3 selected value chains, to assure that it is possible to link this with practices in various sectors.

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