CSE – the credible way into Sustainability

The label for truly sustainable enterprises

In the midst of manifold sustainability pledges, uncontrolled reports and self-defined standards CSE manages to bring clarity and a signal function on a high level:

The predicate stands for certified, i.e. independently audited Sustainability in the company.

Publicly accessible sustainability criteria, transparent assessment processes and the consideration of the entire company and its products allow an authentic communication. Sustainability performance can be labelled for internal and external stakeholders.

Your business is already scoring above average as regards environmental and social issues? You are even a trendsetter, a thought leader and a maverick? You have understood that future capable enterprises and Sustainability go hand in hand?

The CSE label is the result of our sincere aim to evaluate the excellent achievements of sustainable economic players in an objective and comprehensible way and to inform about them. In this way we support you and your environmentally aware customers.

Commit yourself to the most ambitious and most comprehensive company standard in the matter of sustainability.

CSE - the credible and dynamic label for forerunners.

With a CSE certification your company can reach a number of objectives at the same time:

You are given the certainty to be part of the top performers in regard to sustainability.

The label is an easy tool to convey this message to your customers in  a credible way.

Communication at a glance – you save your staff members, suppliers and stakeholders the need to read lengthy sustainability reports.

You have a useful evaluation tool that you can apply internally for the measurement and improvement of your performance.

As a sustainability pioneer you’re taking the lead and set standards.

Details on sustianability certification

What should a company do to obtain the CSE certification?

A company standard for sustainable management is quite complex indeed.  In the following we have compiled the most important elements.

The complete requirements can be consulted here.

CSE as a company standard for sustainability is organised as a tree:

structure of the CSE-certification

The roots feature a sound system for the continuous improvement of the company (environmental management – extended to a sustainability management system – based on the international norm ISO 14001). This management system is meant to be a support for the company in its quest towards the consequent application of sustainability. For small companies, handicraft businesses and start-ups the management system doesn’t have to be monstrous. Essential is that it offers support and matches with the company’s profile. A functioning sustainable management system is therefore a basic requirement. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help at the introduction of such a management system.

A further basic requirement for the company certification is the fulfilment of the knock-off criteria. They represent a solid tree trunk and have to be prioritarily complied with by all CSE certified companies. These criteria are structured in the three well-known areas of sustainability: social, ecological and economical issues. CSE is quite unique in this sense that it takes in account the sustainable alignment of the whole company: when you produce organic cosmetics on one hand and proceed with animal testing for other products, you will not be allowed to bear the CSE label.

minimum criteria for CSE sustainability certification

The roots feature a sound system for the continuous improvement of the company (environmental management – extended to a sustainability management system – based on the international norm ISO 14001). This management system is meant to be a support for the company in its quest towards the consequent application of sustainability. For small companies, handicraft businesses and start-ups the management system doesn’t have to be monstrous. Essential is that it offers support and matches with the company’s profile. A functioning sustainable management system is therefore a basic requirement. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help at the introduction of such a management system.

The knock-off criteria are:

Social requirements

In CSE certified companies there is a working atmosphere which is conducive to humans. Family friendly working hours, equal pay for men and women and the possibility of working from home office are selfunderstood. As far as raw materials or half-fabricates are sourced in countries outside of Europe, CSE certified companies prefer produce that is fair trade and equitable.

Ecological requirements

CSE certified companies use mainly ingredients from ecological, regional farming and continually reassess their potential reduction of resources. They select their suppliers based on the same state of mind.

Economical criteria

Outside capital is sourced either from ethically oriented investors or from sources which reinforce the region in which the company has its seat. Longtime partnerships are generated and the income gap does not exceed the ratio 1:15 (as a comparison: with the general public 1:200 is mainly accepted as “normal”). Profits which the company generates are used to realise sustainability objectives.

Yet we have a solid foundation for the sustainability standard with roots and tree trunk. Now come the leaves. With each tree they grow in an individual manner, depending on insolation, water provision etc. The leaves represent the sustainability objectives, of which each company has to select mandatorily three from the areas Ecology, Society and Economy, and have to implement them within a time lapse of three to five years. 

On top of these you can as a CSE company oblige yourself to many more sustainability focuses. In doing so you take part in the creation of new, innovative impulsions within sustainable economy. These focuses are the flowers or fruits in our picture.

Companies that one day reached with success the CSE certification should however not want to rest on their laurels. They understand sustainability as a learning process and put their goals continuously higher. The tree is growing and flourishing. For all the others he is an orientation, an example, a haven and a support.

Can our company attain the CSE standard?

When you fulfil the minimum criteria and already pursue the vision of a sustainable company: by all means!


minimum criteria for CSE sustainability certification


The CSE standard is available for the following sectors:

  • Natural cosmetics
  • Washing and cleaning products
  • Natural products
  • Organic products
  • Services and handicraft
  • Commerce

CSE can be adapted to nearly all and any type of companies and products, as far as the minimum requirements are fulfilled. When your company is outside the mentioned categories, please be so kind to contact us.

The process of a CSE certification

The “Gesellschaft für angewandte Wirtschaftsethik (GfaW)” (Corporation for Applied Economical Ethics) is the standard setter and therefore defines what constitutes a honestly sustainable company. The certification as such is of course in the hands of a neutral and audited certification body, in this case the EcoControl GmbH (Germany).

Because it is a combination of product and management certification, the control goes deep into the corporate structure. If a company starts with CSE certification and can already rely on product certifications (eco-control, natural cosmetics and natural product certification), the first and second stage audits will take place. Once all requirements have been met (product certifications, management standard, minimum requirements and sustainability goals set), the company receives its first CSE certificate. It is now allowed to mark its entire products with the CSE seal. Monitoring audits are held annually in the following 2 years. This is primarily about compliance with the minimum requirements and achieving the sustainability goals. In the 4th year a larger audit is located, the recertification. In addition to the minimum requirements, the management system is tested for effectiveness and new goals are defined.
As an overview:

Level I (pre-audit) - result: list of "homework"

Stage II Initial Audit - Result: Certification (Year 1, at the latest after 6 months after Level I Audit))

Surveillance audit (year 2 and 3) - Result: extension of the certificate

Recertification audit (Year 4) - Result: new certificate


On demand, the possibility exists to have a pre-audit by the GafW. In this pre-audit the GafW checks if your company can fulfil the requirements of the CSE standard in an adequate way. Furthermore, during this session we can evaluate if your company  already disposes of an adequate sustainability management system. During this pre-audit we are happy to advise you about the right sustainability measures to be taken and optimisation potentials in existence for environmental management, this to pave the way for a certification. 

What is the cost of a company certification?

The costs can be subdivided in two posts:  the royalties for the use of the label and the costs of the certification.

Any company should have the possibility to implement and communicate its sustainability. Therefore, the royalties for the use of the CSE label go by the number of employees in your company (full time equivalents). Depending on the company size the royalties amount to between € 100 and € 6.000.

The yearly certification costs are counted per time unit.  As a rule the first and the fourth audit (the certification process) are more substantial. In the first audit, together with the auditor, you gather a lot of data and collect valuable information for further audits. With the second and third visit there are far less data to collect and you know the procedure already. That is why they are mostly cheaper. In the fourth audit the whole of the company is audited again in quite a detailed way, which is more time consuming.

For a more detailed cost estimation please contact the certification body EcoControl GmbH and ask for an offer.


In a nutshell: your internal and external expenses depend from what your company is already achieving  with regard to sustainability and documentation. For a first estimation, please be so kind to contact us.


Your benefits with a company certification

In return for your investment in CSE your allowed to bear the CSE Standard on your products. In doing so you position yourselves unequivocally and clearly as a controlled and certified sustainable company. Solely when consumers can recognise the sustainable performance of a company are they able to reward it.

In this way your products become attractive for the ecologically and ethically motivated clientele. You can communicate the quality label in any form, you get a coverage on our website and you’re becoming part of further marketing actions.

With the CSE Certificate, which contains a summary of the minimum criteria, you’re facilitating your B2B-Communication within the value-added chain. Instead of producing lengthy reports you can present your achievements in a focused way. On top of that, the data collection during the audits represents a solid base for a sustainability reporting. From these data you can, when required, easily extract a sustainability report. As a controlled and certified company you have no difficulty in attracting qualified professionals and enthuse them for your company. You can count on a higher staff motivation and identification. In the same way more stable business relations can be generated. The sustainability standard conveys fairness and long-term orientation between the business partners.

Last but not least, you will be invited to our annual  working group meetings for networking. That’s where you will meet and exchange with CSE pioneers from different sectors. Next to presentations on topics related to sustainability in companies, the meetings are also meant to foster the further development of the standard. With your expertise you’re participating in implementing and optimising sustainability in business life.

With the certification come the following documents:


The right to use the CSE-label for all products


CSE and ISO 14001

CSE is a sustainability certification based on transparent and valid data. For this reason an ecological management system according to ISO 14001 is a compulsory minimal requirement. The observance  of ISO 14001 is instituted at the audit and confirmed by the CSE certificate.

Our cooperating partner Sustaineration will be delighted to assist you at the introduction of an ecological management system at the occasion of a pre-audit.

What a certification can’t do

CSE is a quality label and supports your company in the quest for a high level of sustainability and the communication around it. You obtain many relevant data for the editing of a sustainability report. The CSE report as such however is not formatted for external communication. Even when CSE certifies the sustainability performance and therefore improves the company communication, the sustainability standard can not replace the brand communication.

Moreover, CSE doesn’t inform on the correct use of the product with the end user. This part of communication is the responsibility of the respective companies (e.g. taking the form of dosing instructions, warning notes etc.).


Aren’t you there yet?

Of course you are. That you read till now is a demonstration of your serious interest in the matter and the willingness to set a foot forward. In the case there’d be criteria that your company can’t yet fulfil, we can assist you in the preparation of a CSE certification with our commitment and competence.

Feel free to contact us for a non-binding consultation meeting.


Our sustainability pioneers

That´s what others say

Highly recommended. It is a sophisticated label that contributes significantly to social, environmental and economic improvements in the production processes of detergents and cleaners as well as cosmetics. It can be found on products and as a corporate standard.


The CSE sign is a sustainability seal not for individual products, but for the entire company. The areas of ecology, social affairs and economics are crucial for the award. Companies that have been certified according to the CSE standard may label their products with the CSE mark.


Certified Sustainable Economics

Ausgezeichnetes Projekt vom Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung

The Certified Sustainable Economics Standard identifies products and companies that have implemented an environmental management system and a quality management system. Likewise, these companies meet high social demands.


That's what our sustainability pioneers say



Sustainability certification — flyer download