Verifying good practice
Consumers are increasingly demanding that businesses demonstrate a genuine commitment to ethical sourcing. UEBT verifies the commitments that companies have made to follow good practices and the steps they have taken to protect biodiversity and respect people’s rights.
Verifying company commitments
By becoming a UEBT member, companies pledge to source with respect for people and biodiversity. Every three years, UEBT inspects the systems that companies have in place for sourcing ingredients derived from biodiversity. As part of this process, companies establish work plans to gradually improve their practices, both within the company and in the geographical areas where ingredients are sourced.
What is assessed?
UEBT conducts assessments that range from a review of high-level commitments to a deep look into a company’s supply chain. The following elements are verified:
- Ethical sourcing commitments
- Sourcing and innovation policies
- Risks in the natural ingredient portfolio
- Natural ingredient supply chains
Verification is not like certification. It does not guarantee that a company complies with the UEBT standard. Instead, the assessment process is focused on improvement and learning.
UEBT member companies are permitted to communicate about their UEBT membership and use the UEBT member logo as long as they abide by UEBT’s claims policy.
Certifying ethical sourcing systems
UEBT's certification of a company's ethical sourcing system validates that a company has incorporated the requirements from the UEBT standard into its systems for sourcing and innovating natural ingredients. Inspections are conducted by independent auditors, who verify the implementation of policies and procedures.
What is assessed?
The certification process inspects the following:
- Company, brand or product line specific ethical sourcing commitments
- Due diligence systems covering suppliers, supply chains, and access and benefit sharing (ABS)
- Risk assessment in natural ingredient portfolios
- Ethical BioTrade verification system for prioritized supply chains
- Traceability systems for natural ingredients
- Communications and marketing policies
UEBT member companies with a certified ethical sourcing system are permitted to use the UEBT certification mark according to the UEBT claims policy.
Certifying natural ingredients
UEBT's certification of natural ingredients assures that a natural ingredient is sourced with respect for people and biodiversity. This is different than UEBT certification of a company’s sourcing system because it applies to a specific ingredient. Certification is granted once independent audits verify compliance with the Ethical BioTrade Standard (the UEBT standard) in the regions where natural ingredients are sourced. Traceability through to the area of collection or cultivation is always required. Audits are conducted by third party auditors, but internal control systems can be deployed at different stages of the supply chain.
UEBT offers innovative approaches to credible verification. For example, certification is possible against internal company standards that UEBT has recognized as reflecting the Ethical BioTrade Standard. Moreover, organisations at different stages of the supply chain can be certificate holders (e.g. final product brands, international or local processing companies, farms, cooperatives).
What is assessed?
Under natural ingredient certification, auditors assess the local entity (e.g. company, cooperative or farm) that is responsible for verifying that sourcing practices comply with the Ethical BioTrade Standard , as well as the physical areas and people in the sourcing areas (e.g. forests, agricultural lands, harvesters, farmers, farmworkers, or smallholders).
The claims that are permitted differ depending on the type of certification:
- UEBT/UTZ Certified vanilla and herbal tea ingredients can be sold with the UTZ label.
- Companies holding ethical sourcing system certification may use the UEBT certification mark on products as long as there is a mention of the certified natural ingredient.
- If a company uses UEBT certified natural ingredients, but itself lacks ethical sourcing system certification, it can make a claim of compliance, but there are currently no labeling opportunities.
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Upon achieving ethical sourcing system certification, a company can say that its sourcing and innovation practices align with the Ethical BioTrade Standard (the UEBT standard).
UEBT/UTZ Herbal Tea and Vanilla
UEBT has partnered with fellow ISEAL member, UTZ Certified – a leading certification system for agricultural products - to offer a joint certification programs for vanilla and herbal tea.
The program combines requirements from both UTZ Certified and UEBT standards. Under the program, UEBT is responsible for the certification and UTZ Certified manages traceability and labelling.
The UTZ label can be used on certified vanilla and herbal teas.