Danish corporations play a central role in the green transition. In November 2020, the Danish government therefore established 13 climate partnerships with representatives from all industries. The climate partnerships were asked to examine how companies and authorities can contribute to solving the climate challenges, and recently they presented their recommendations, which show that uniform requirements and measurements are needed across industries and that standards and eco-labels are seen as important tools in that respect.
This is fully in line with Danish companies’ experiences. In a survey done by Oxford Research for Danish Standards, 53% of the 580 respondent companies indicate that standards contribute to the green transition. For instance, standards can help reducing the climate impact of companies’ own processes and promoting green solutions that reduce the climate impact of their costumers and end users.
Standards promote green solutions
One of the companies that uses standards for promoting green solutions and for setting requirements to their suppliers is FocusBioEnergy – a consulting engineering company which provides advice to companies about conversion from fossil to renewable energy and designs biomass plants for the production of sustainable energy.
”Our plants are based on international standards for design and production. This allows us to sell our plants all over Europe. For our customers it is a considerable investment to change to a biomass plant, and standards ensure that they invest in a controlled and documented technology which complies with requirements, for example from the Danish Working Environment Authority”, explains CEO Jens-Ole Aagaard Jensen.
He does, however, see a need for more standards in the area of biofuel, which is an area that so far has been covered by various certification solutions. The challenge is that the certifications do not have the same coverage, some may for example take social relations and replanting into consideration whereas others do not.
”An EU-standard exists for wood chips. This standard has made procurement on behalf of our customers much easier because we now have specific guidelines for size, dust, moisture content etc. We are very interested in also getting uniform international standards for other types of biofuel. That would enable us to increase biofuel trade across borders. We would also like to get standards for sustainability to be able to better document that we deliver a product which complies with consensus-based sustainability requirements”, says Jens-Ole Aagaard Jensen.
Best practices and uniform methods
Danish Standards’s study shows that increased trust in new, green solutions, improved communication about the solutions as well as creation of higher quality solutions are the three areas where the highest number of companies believe that standards can create value.
”Standards create uniform requirements and measurements. This allows us to have the same understanding of the concept of sustainability – also across countries”, says Maibritt Agger, Head of Department at Danish Standards.
This is for example the case within circular economy, where companies increasingly demand standards because they experience a need for concrete tools and methods.
”Circular economy is a field where we are currently seeing many new developments. Both European and international standards exist in this area and more are under way. Standards for ”design for disassembly” are examples of upcoming standards in this field. This type of standards will lead us towards producing products that are designed in a way that allows easy product disassembly and repair as well as recycling of products or their components”, says Maibritt Agger.
Other examples are telephones, which can be disassembled and repaired or recycled, and household appliances, which can be repaired and thus don not have to be scrapped when they break down. Such examples illustrate that design for disassembly is an important element in the green transition. This design principle is also increasingly becoming an EU requirement. Recently, the European Union adopted the Green Deal, which is a green pact aiming at making Europe the first climate neutral continent. The pact includes a new plan for circular economy, the Circular Economy Action Plan.
Maibritt Agger underlines that standards are not just a tool for larger companies.
”A standard provides its users with all necessary information about how to proceed. It is both a manual and a collection of best practices. Many standards are structured as step-by-step guides that allow their users to start from their own current situation and move forward from there. We are well aware that standards need to be easy to read and use – particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Standards contribute to innovation
Completely new companies can also benefit from standards, and innovative companies often contact Danish Standards requesting standards that they can use to document their sustainable products and processes. It could for example be companies that seek to make products based on sea plastic and that want to ensure traceability to be able to document that the plastic used in their products comes from the oceans.
”In this way standards can contribute to innovation and open new markets and business opportunities. At the same time, standards and eco-labels can make it easier for consumers to make deliberate choices”, says Maibritt Agger.