Sustainability Exchange

Public consultation: Next generation of the Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT)

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Deadline for consultation extended until August 11, 2015!

Dear reader,

As the team of the Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT), together with our partners ISEAL Alliance and the International Trade Centre (ITC), we would like to invite you to provide feedback on a revised set of criteria to assess the credibility of sustainability standards. In order to receive the criteria set and background information, please send an email to: or follow this link to ISEAL’s website where we make the criteria set available for download:

What is the Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT)?

SSCT is a project by the German Government, financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The core consists of the analysis and assessment of sustainability standards. For this purpose, international and German experts developed a catalogue of requirements. These requirements are two-fold: one set looks at the credibility of the system behind a standard (system criteria). The other looks at product-group specific environmental and social aspects (content criteria). SSCT aims to facilitate more sustainable consumption by providing different user groups, such as consumers or public procurers with customized websites containing information on sustainability standards.

Why are the criteria being revised?

 Based on the learnings from our first round of data collection, we revised the criteria set to achieve the following:

 - Better guidance for data collection to achieve a more consistent interpretation of standards data.

 - Reduction of the overall number of criteria in order to reduce the workload for consultants and standard organizations.

 - Harmonization with other benchmarking initiatives and the ITC Standards Map data fields.

The new draft is therefore a condensed version of the previous criteria set. For this consultation round, we are including the new version only. If you would like to receive the old version together with the new one, please let us know and we will be happy to provide it.

When to give feedback and how?

The consultation will run for four weeks from 2 July to 31 July. We are making available an excel sheet containing the criteria set via email to our stakeholders, as well as via the ISEAL website and the SustainabilityXChange platform. In addition, we will promote the consultation in related professional forums and groups. On the first sheet of the criteria set we explain how you can provide comments and make suggestions. Please submit the commented version of the criteria set electronically:

Who decides on the final set?

The SSCT project has a steering committee consisting of six German Federal Ministries. This steering committee has the final decision making power. The technical work is done by an expert group consisting of representatives from ISEAL Alliance, Global Ecolabelling Network, ITC, The German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), The German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), and independent auditors. This group already met once to discuss the revised set prior to this consultation. After the consultation and based on your feedback, the expert group will finalize the criteria set. This set will then be passed to the steering committee for approval.

How will this revision affect data collection?

We already collected data with the old criteria set for several standards. In the course of the annual ITC data updating process, the data will be revised and new data collected. We expect that much of the existing data can be used and that the workload for standards organizations will be manageable. The data updating processes of ITC and SSCT are being integrated so there is no duplication.

How will the data be used?

The data we collect for SSCT is used to provide different user groups with customized websites containing information on sustainability standards. The first website we launched is the German consumer portal We are currently working on a tool for public procurement, which will allow for a more detailed analysis of standards for procurement purposes. In addition, we have developed an expert tool for internal testing purposes. We are currently working on a concept to make this tool available as well, e.g. for standards to benchmark themselves, or for researchers and universities.

Where to find additional resources?

 If you have any questions or would like to receive more information, please feel free to contact us at We are happy to hold a webinar with you to provide additional information and answer your questions.

July 06, 2015 10:54