Ask The Experts: Join the club, boost credibility

Last updated 05:00 21/07/2014

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Q. My business is considering obtaining an environmental accreditation. While we have a small export market, most of our sales are to domestic business clients many of whom require an environmental accreditation as part of tendering contracts to supply. What is the most appropriate environmental accreditation for my business and what are the main benefits?

A. Organisations increasingly want to understand their supply chain to ensure that good environmental and social practices are being maintained. One way they can do that is to require their suppliers to have or to seek a particular accreditation or certification.

There is a wide range of accreditations and certifications available depending on what environmental outcome your company is seeking to provide assurance on. So, without knowing your particular area of business, the general advice here would be to talk to your customers to ascertain what assurances they are seeking.

For example, if you're a horticulturalist or another type of primary producer, your customer may want organic certification in which case you have the likes of BioGro, considered to be New Zealand's leading organic certifier. If your customer concern is around carbon emissions then there is CarboNZero, New Zealand's internationally accredited greenhouse gas certification programme and CEMARS, the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reductions Scheme.

It's important that whatever you're seeking you ensure it is credible and will be recognised by your customer. This normally involves a rigorous process including third-party verification and an ongoing system of compliance monitoring with regular reviews.

For example with CarboNZero, the holder is required to produce an annual return which is internally audited by CarbonNZero before a new certification is issued.

Without knowing your field of business, my advice on this one would be that it is less about what certification or accreditation you would like and more about what your customer is seeking.

- Steve Stark is a partner with BDO Waikato.

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