In 2006, B Lab was founded by two Stanford University Alumni, Bart Boulahan and Jay Coen Gilbert. The goal was to award the B-Corp certification to companies that are retaining the higher level of care for people, animals and the planet. B-Corp is now recognised on a global scale and is seen as an indicator of sustainability. On B-Lab’s website, they state, “We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.”
Companies that wish to be certified at B-Corp must first complete an online assessment. B-Lab rigorously analyses performance over the past year and companies must achieve a score of at least 80 points. So far, just over 4,000 companies worldwide have been awarded B-Corp after undertaking this process. In the fashion and beauty sector, the Body Shop, Patagonia, TenTree and Ethique are B-Corps. TenTree, for example, shows care for the environment by planting ten trees for every item purchased. The Body Shop, on the other hand, has a recycling program, ‘Return, Recycle, Repeat’ in place.
What is the problem with B-Corp?
While the initial assessment to become a B-Corp is free, the certification itself comes at a cost. There is a one-off submission fee of £250 and once approved, you have to pay annual certification fees. These fees will depend on each company’s annual sales, although the minimal annual certification fee is £1,000. For many small businesses, paying £1,000 a year for a certification to prove your sustainability is a challenging expense. Especially if you already invested money in recycled packaging, sourcing materials from local suppliers, planting trees for every purchase and so on.
Can this be resolved?
B-Corp is a fantastic way to certify brands that have reached the top standard of environmental and ethical care. However, for smaller brands, it is a shame that their efforts cannot be rewarded in the same way. As a way of opening this up, B-Lab could run annual competitions, where smaller companies have the opportunity to win the certification free of charge. Alternatively, consumers could look to the Good on You app, a resource that rates a brand’s impact on the planet, people and animals. This rating is free of charge to brands, meaning that there is no economical barrier.
For more information about B-Lab, click here.