On 9 September, German Development Minister Gerd Müller officially launched the Green Button in an event gathering numerous companies and stakeholders. In terms of product certification, the Green Button works as a so-called meta-label for textiles, issued by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. That means that only products which are already certified by eligible private standards can be certified with the Green Button. Also international Companies are eligible to join this scheme thus it is not limited to European or German companies. Out of the 27 Green Button companies which were on stage in Berlin, there are several amfori members - Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd, Brands Fashion, Hopp, Lidl, Otto Group, Rewe and Tchibo.
Companies applying for the Green Button are being audited by an independent third party.
The criteria for obtaining the Green Button are focusing on the importing company, the company’s supply chain as well as the product itself. Participating companies must show in detail how they exercise their human rights and environmental due diligence and products need to be certified or labelled with regard to these criteria.
Companies applying for the Green Button are being audited by an independent third party. In the inception phase which ends June 2021 the BMZ bears the cost for the audit. During this phase, criteria for the companies – i.e. their due diligence work – can be implemented in a stepwise approach.
What is stands for
This new label underlines again the importance of knowing the supply chain, analysing the risks for people and the environment, the full endorsement from top management, training of employees about the sustainability work as well as reviewing buying practices to enable and support business partners to meet social and environmental criteria.
In essence, the Green Button criteria reflect what also amfori BSCI and amfori BEPI require from amfori members. As amfori doesn’t provide a product label, the Green Button does not recognize amfori’s sustainability schemes. However, amfori is referred to as one of the schemes which support companies in meeting the Green Button criteria.
Minister Müller had launched the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in 2014 which goes on, however, with only 50% coverage on the German textiles market. Gerd Müller stressed again that he favours legislative steps at European level to push companies towards increased efforts for making supply chains more sustainable. Such legislative steps are also foreseen as a possibility in the German National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, if a monitoring of companies’ activities doesn’t show satisfactory results. This monitoring is currently ongoing. In addition, the Minister underlined that the concept of the Green Button should be applied also for other products.
The developments in Germany reflect a broader push from governments throughout Europe raising the pressure on companies to make more efforts on social and environmental compliance. The centerpiece of all these efforts is the human rights and environmental due diligence – and to report about the practical measures that companies have taken to meet these expectations. Thus, amfori members using the tools and applying the guidelines particularly laid down in the amfori BSCI System Manual and the amfori BEPI Participants Guidelines are well prepared to meet these criteria.