Case Study

Implementing a reliable certification system in food production chains.

Summary

On the way to PlanetProof strives for an agriculture in balance with the carrying capacity of our planet, emphasizing closed cycles of raw materials, and valued by society and the market. To achieve this, an integrated approach is needed, which involves working on sustainability in several themes in all links of the production chain. This is challenging because improvements on one asset can sometimes cause lesser achievements on other assets. It asks for craftsmanship to excel in all areas.

Participation is voluntary. Goals are set in dialogue with stakeholders. Inspections are carried out by third-party certification bodies. Requirements, certificate holders and interpretations are transparent and published on the On the way to PlanetProof website. Accreditation contributes to the reliability of this independent quality label for more sustainable products.

Background

The quality label On the way to PlanetProof was previously called Milieukeur and was founded by SMK in the early 1990s on the initiative of the Dutch government. In 2018, Milieukeur was given a new and international name for food products and floriculture: On the way to PlanetProof.

On the way to PlanetProof is a fast-growing sustainability label. At the time of writing, the label is available for 6 sectors (plant products, floriculture, dairy, eggs, processed products, and trade & retail) and is active both nationally and internationally. In 2017 some 300 farmers, horticulturalists and other businesses had a certificate, while by 2021 there were already over 2,800 participating businesses.

Strategy 

The independent label On the way to PlanetProof proves that you are buying or selling a product that is produced more sustainably and is better for nature, climate and animals. Based on criteria, On the way to PlanetProof farmers and growers contribute to cleaner air, fertile soil, water quality, and animal welfare. They pay attention to nature on the farm, separating waste and recycling. As an entrepreneur with the On the way to PlanetProof certificate, you assure suppliers and customers that your company is working on sustainability, which can provide various benefits.

Making sustainable choices has become more important to companies and consumers. Therefore, interest in the sustainability of products is increasing and is more often considered in purchasing decisions, for example in Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP), by buyers from supermarkets or the consumer.  Products with the On the way to PlanetProof quality label meet that demand by being proven to be more sustainable; the quality label is the ‘proof’.

SMK has developed and manages the On the way to PlanetProof quality label. SMK is responsible for the requirements and independent certification bodies carry out the inspections. This way, the development and testing are separated. SMK is a non-profit organization and cooperates with experts, boards of experts, committees and certification bodies. These independent certification bodies handle applications and check the certificate holders. The certification schemes of On the way to PlanetProof and the certification bodies that award the quality label are supervised by the Dutch Accreditation Council. The certification and inspections are accredited to ISO/IEC 17065.

Results and impact

The quality label name ‘On the way’ represents the steps towards more sustainable agricultural production. It makes it clear that sustainability is a continuous process of improvement with the aim: a production method that is in balance with the earth’s capacity. The requirements of the certification schemes are regularly revised and the ambition levels are increased where possible.

With On the way to PlanetProof, certificate holders contribute to the sustainability goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. This is accomplished via requirements in multiple areas:

  • Energy use and climate
  • Crop protection
  • Biodiversity and landscape
  • Soil quality
  • Fertilization
  • Water
  • Material use and waste flows
  • Animal welfare and health

On the way to PlanetProof is growing rapidly. For example, 5.6% of poultry farmers in the Netherlands are certified. Furthermore, 58% of the table potatoes and 53% of the herbs and vegetables (open cultivation) in the Netherlands are certified with On the way to PlanetProof. For fruit, this is 38%.

Contact

Name label: On the way to PlanetProof
Organization: SMK
More information on the website: https://www.planetproof.eu/en/

Implementing a reliable certification system in food production chains.

Sustainable Development Goals

Clean Water And Sanitation
Life On Land
Responsible Consumption And Production