A large number of voluntary sustainability standards – and labels – have been come into being in recent years. These were originally developed by distinct groups such as non-governmental organisations or the private sector but are now increasingly being established by mixed groups (“multi-stakeholder approach”) such as the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, in which AVE is also involved.

Furthermore, AVE is one of the founding members and sponsors of amfori BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative), now the largest private-sector initiative, which has developed and implemented a code of conduct and effective monitoring for a worldwide improvement in social standards.

In the area of environmental standards, AVE supports amfori BEPI (Business Environmental Performance Initiative), intended to improve the ecological aspects of high-risk production sites. Along the same lines as the amfori BSCI standard, multiple audits should be avoided and a widely recognised standard should be established through harmonised criteria.

In addition, AVE is a sponsor of CPI2. CPI2 offers retailers and brands an effective instrument for reducing negative environmental influences in the areas of water, energy and chemical use by their suppliers.

Selection of further sector-relevant initiatives

ACT (Action Collaboration Transformation)

The ACT initiative comprises 17 brand and trading businesses and the international trade union confederation IndustriALL with the ambitious objective of paying living wages. At the heart of the initiative is therefore sector-wide collective bargaining in conjunction with adjustments to purchasing practices of global brands and retailers.

AIM-Progress – Program for responsible sourcing

AIM-PROGRESS is an initiative of manufacturers and suppliers to the consumer goods industry with a view to promoting responsible sourcing and sustainable production systems. The core element of AIM-PROGRESS is a discussion platform which enables members to exchange views and experience in relation to a sustainable supply chain. Suppliers are required to make their evaluation reports available online via the Supplier Ethical Date Exchange (Sedex) platform.

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

BCI is a programme of non-governmental organisations and companies with the objective of improving environmental and social conditions in cotton cultivation worldwide and hence promoting sustainable production of cotton.

Cotton made in Africa

Cotton made in Africa is an initiative of Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) which was founded in 2005 by Michael Otto. Since then, it has worked – based on the principle of helping people to help themselves – to protect the environment and improve living and working conditions for around 780,000 cotton growers (situation in August 2017) and thousands of factory workers in 12 African countries. The latest study shows that CmiA cotton saves more than 2,100 litres of water per kilogram of cotton fibre as compared with the global average and emits up to 40% less greenhouse gas than conventional cotton.

Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)

EICC is a sectoral initiative of the electronic industry with the objective of arriving at a joint code of conduct for an ongoing improvement in social, ecological and ethical production conditions in their supply chains.

Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP)

ETP is a membership organisation of international tea businesses with the objective of improving the working and living conditions of tea workers and smallholder growers as well as environmental conditions in the regions of cultivation.

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

ETI brings together companies, non-governmental organisations and trade unions with the aim of promoting fair working conditions worldwide among suppliers to the retail trade.

Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)

FWF is a non-profit organisation steered by non-governmental organisations, trade unions and business associations with the goal of improving working conditions in the textile and clothing industry.

Global Coffee Platform (GCP)

GCP is a multi-stakeholder initiative of coffee producers, trade and industry together with a range of civil-society organisations. The initiative grew out of 4C – Common Code for the Coffee Community – with the objective of moving towards sustainability across the coffee sector. It is intended that the environmental and living conditions of coffee producers are improved through implementation of a widely applicable minimum standard (Baseline Common Code).

Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)

GeSI  is a partnership of companies and organisations from the area of information and communication technologies (ICT) with the goal of promoting the development of technologies which foster economic, ecological and social sustainability. Furthermore, the business initiative has developed the management instrument Sustainability Assessment Framework (SASF) for evaluation of the sustainability performance of ICT products and services.

International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)

ICI is an initiative of the global chocolate and cocoa industry in cooperation with trade unions and non-governmental organisations with the main objective of eliminating exploitative child labour in the area of cocoa cultivation and cocoa processing.

International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) CARE Foundation

ICTI Care Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation which seeks to improve ethical and sustainability standards in the toy sector’s global value-creation chain.

International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO)

IFFO is a non-profit initiative which offers an international standard for sustainable production of fishmeal, fish oil and marine products worldwide. The third-party inspection and certification programme is intended to secure the integrity and transparency of implementation.

Juice CSR Platform

Juice CSR Platform is a multi-stakeholder initiative with the aim of making the European fruit juice industry and its supply chain more sustainable. Members commit to address economic, social, ecological, ethical and human rights obligations and challenges continuously along the entire supply chain jointly with the relevant stakeholders.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

RSPO is a multi-stakeholder initiative and seeks to promote sustainable cultivation methods for palm oil and to limit environmental damage. RSPO defines minimum standards for the production and use of palm oil which members undertake to meet.

Sustainability Apparel Coalition (SAC)

SAC brings together companies from the textile and chemical industry as well as organisations representing governments, civil society and academia. The goal is to make supply chains in the international apparel, footwear and household textile industry more sustainable. The focus is on drawing up and using the Higg Index, a constantly evolving self-assessment instrument for uniform evaluation of sustainability performances in the supply chain.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme

ZDHC is an association of textile and footwear manufacturers with the objective of eliminating hazardous substances from the value-creation chain. To this end, a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) has been drawn up which lists hazardous chemicals which may not be used or used only in defined concentrations.

Further relevant standards

GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards

Sustainability Reporting Standards are a framework for sustainability reporting developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The framework consists of 36 modules: three general standards – principles, general information and management approaches – as well as 33 specific thematic standards broken down into the areas of environment, economy and social matters.

ISO 20400 Sustainable procurement – Guidance

ISO-Standard 20400 is designed to help private and public organisations to structure their procurement and purchasing more sustainably – at both strategic and operational level. The standard complements ISO 26000 on the social responsibility of organisations, is intended as guidance and cannot be certified. 

ISO 26000

ISO 26000 provides guidance on social responsibility with the core themes of governance, human rights, labour practices, environment, fair operational and business practices, consumer concerns as well as community involvement and development. The guidelines apply for all types of organisation. ISO 26000 cannot be certified as a management system standard.

SA8000 Standard

SA8000 is a certifiable standard of NGO Social Accountability International (SAI) for monitoring compliance with workplace-related minimum standards. It is based inter alia on the ILO conventions, the UN convention on human rights as well as the UN conventions on children’s rights. In addition, SA8000 calls for a management system which ensures compliance with requirements as well as regular monitoring, evaluation and certification. SA8000 is compatible with the ISO standards ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management.

Moritz-Benjamin Lange-Lundetrae

Head of Trade Policy and Sustainability
Telephone: +49(0) 30590099-614

Import Promotion Desk (IPD)

You want to import? Fresh fruit and vegetables? Cut flowers? Industrial timber? Natural ingredients for foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics? As AVE’s partner, IPD has the contacts and stands at your side throughout the procurement process.
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You will find an overview and evaluation of some individual standards and initiatives here: