Process and Mode of Action of the CSE Certification

CSE is a comprehensive and holistic sustainability certification and follows the principle of continuous improvement. In doing so, this principle also has an impact beyond the certified company and through the work groups  also into the further development of the CSE standard.


Which requirements does a company has to fulfil in order to obtain the CSE certification?

CSE is a certification that certifies your company holistically. The most important requirement for CSE is a sustainable business model. This is fulfilled if you 

  • produce ecological products (out of renewable raw materials or out of circular economy)
  • trade with them
  • offer a service that promotes sustainability


  • are a sustainably-oriented bank.

If these characteristics apply to your company, chances are good that you can act according to the requirements of CSE or be CSE compliant in the future.
Detailed information can be found in the CSE standard here (download)

How much time is spent on the CSE certification?

The effort and duration of a certification depends on the type of your company. Experience shows that the certification of a production company is more time-consuming than that of a service company.
You can find a general overview here:

until certification
task quantity of
work days
yes 6 months coordination 1 day/ week
yes 6 months  area manager 1 - 2 days/ month,
plus workshop
no 1 year coordination 1- 1,5 days/ week
no 1 year area manager 2 Tage/Monat,
 plus workshop

What are the financial costs of the CSE certification?

The cost of CSE certification is compiled of 3 modules:

  • Costs by the certification body according to effort - please ask your certification body for a quotation.
  • Costs by the standard setter GfaW to use the CSE label and the data collection tool CSE-STAR for certification by number of full-time equivalent positions. Young companies, non-profit and/or purpose companies receive a discount. Please contact us.
  • Internal costs of your company (variable and depending on criteria that your company is already fulfilling, documentation effort and consulting needs). The following table gives roughly estimated values for a manufacturing company with approx. 50 full-time employees:
until certification
task quantity of
work days
yes 6 months coordination 1 day/ week
yes 6 months area manager 1 - 2 days/ month,
plus workshop
no 1 year coordination 1- 1,5 days/ week
no 1 year area manager 1 - 2 days/ month,
 plus workshop

How does a CSE certification work and who is certifying the companies?

The Certification Process
CSE is a combination of product and management certification. The product is a sustainable management according to the CSE standard. The CSE standard requires a management system according to ISO 14001:2015. Accordingly, the CSE certification also includes auditing the management system. Therefore, the audits emphasize on different topics each time.
The basis for certification is the performance of audits by an external certification body. The audit takes place with the STAR tool. Provided that all criteria have been evaluated as fulfilled, the certification body issues the CSE certificate, which is valid for 3 years. Within this period, annual surveillance audits take place.

This table provides an overview of the different types of audits and the estimated effort for a manufacturing company with approximately 50 full-time employees.

Auditart  Jahr  Inhalt  Umfang  Ergebnis
0 Überprüfen
auf Zertifizierbarkeit
1 – 2
für Zertifizierbarkeit
Erst-Audit 1 Überprüfen des
und der CSE-Kriterien
1 – 2
CSE-Zertifikat mit
einer Gültigkeit von
3 Jahren bis zum
Überprüfen der
CSE-Kriterien und des
1 Audittag  
4 wie Erst-Audit 1 – 2

Time Procedure
To begin with the certification process, you sign a contract with GfaW to use the STAR tool. Afterwards, you will receive your STAR tool access. Depending on where your company stands in the certification process, you start filling out the STAR immediately or you use our consultancy offer. The STAR tool helps you preparing for certification and is a guide to implementing an ISO 14001:2015 management system. Once your company has answered all the questions in the STAR tool, certification can begin.

After you have signed a contract with the certification body, you arrange an audit date. Usually, you will receive the audit date about 6 months after signing the contract. The surveillance audit takes place approx. 12 months after the initial audit.

Content-Related Procedure
Once you have access to the STAR tool, familiarize yourself with the tool and get an overview. On our website and in the tool you will find videos that answer any questions you may have.

If you have not yet established an environmental management system in your company, we recommend that you start the tool with the question "Does the company have an environmental and sustainability management system UNMS according to ISO 14001:2015?". We have provided a guideline in the notes section of this question.

Experience shows that you best manage the certification when the process is understood and supported by everyone in your company. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you use the implementation as a team project. This requires one person to coordinate and lead the project. Individual tasks can be distributed among the management of the business units and brought together in workshops. Beyond the actual certification, this project can be your "treasury" for motivation, identification with your company values and for team cohesion.

Employees become sources of inspiration and information, sustainable processes that have long been implemented in everyday work are "rediscovered" and reassessed. This reveals important "best practice" examples that are also valuable for external communication.

If you already use an environmental management system, the STAR tool serves an instrument to complementing the documents in terms of conformity with the CSE standard.
We happily support you on your way to certification and look forward to your inquiry.

Preparation For The Audit
The required documents for the CSE audit are queried in the STAR tool. If you have answered all the questions in the tool and the paths to your documents are stored, your company is ready for the audit.

The audit is an examination carried out by auditors from the certification body. You can make good use of the audit by looking at your processes together with the help of the auditor and finding out whether you can still improve on some points. Auditors are often well informed about the industry, so you can also use the annual audit as a discussion among experts.

Comparison with other regulatory frameworks on sustainability

This document lists the overlaps of the CSE standard with other regulatory frameworks (GWÖ, DNK, GRI, UN Global Compact, SDGs) on sustainability

synopsis CSE with other sustainability regulatory frameworks

Ein Vergleich mit einem uns sehr ähnlichen Standard wird hier dargestellt. WeCare gilt jedoch ausschließlich für Lebensmittel.

CSE und WeCare


Do the Test:


Companies are the interface between economy and individuals. Sustainability in the economic life; that might sound unusual and complex. Luckily, with our expertise and our products we support and monitor your way towards sustainability, e. g. with this mini sustainability check.

With it you can check how sustainable your company already is and find out for yourself that the next step will be easy with the right guidance.

Für Unternehmen:


Um den Zertifizierungsprozess machbar, effizient und übersichtlich zu gestalten haben wir das Online-Tool STAR (Sustainability Tool for Assessment and Reporting) entwickelt, das Unternehmen auf dem Weg zur Zertifizierung unterstützt.