How we work
With the vision of a consistently sustainable way of doing business, GfaW offers the instruments for communication and labeling of particularly valuable content.
We give a voice to manufacturers of sustainable and ecological products. Our company certification (CSE) and product certifications (NCS and NCP) serve consumers as quality indicators. They allow to distinguish between ecological and non-organic products as well as sustainable versus non-sustainable products. Supporting the consumer in sustainable purchasing decisions is our concern.
As the owner of the standard, GfaW finally makes the decisions regarding label design and criteria development. Intention and decision basis is the consensus between the standard users and experts. Consensus-building is executed by the practical implementation of everyday business as well as regular working group meetings.
Detailed way of working and description of our work
The main motivation for our business practices is the recognition that changing survival conditions require new "survival strategies." Given the global challenges facing humanity, a return to the questions may be helpful: "What is the characteristic of a good life? What makes us happy?"
First and foremost, non-monetary values such as community, solidarity, responsibility, friendship, trust, relationships, etc. are all promoted and promoted. Establishing and establishing a "good life" for all people is the goal of sustainable economic activity.
We see ourselves as pioneers for a corresponding economic and cultural development. The common good economy and the CSE standard offer a possible answer to the question of how to move from a merely growth orientation to an alignment with ethical values within the existing structures.
We see our ecological product certifications as an introduction to a more sustainable way of doing business. In exchange with stakeholders from business, society and science, we are constantly working on the question "HOW" sustainable business can be implemented. We recognize that change can only be realized through the participation of all actors.
Our work is based on a strong concept of sustainability. Strong sustainability assumes that natural and artificial resources are not interchangeable. Therefore, the total amount of natural resources and their composition should not only be preserved, but increased as much as possible.
This is followed by the growth question: The quantitative growth paradigm has become firmly rooted in modern civilization. Driven by capital markets and cutthroat competition, companies are also facing the need to grow.
GfaW understands this dilemma. On the other hand, the CSE-Pioneers clearly show other ways that focus on the growth of quality (see "Already on bord").
The quality of certification is determined by several factors. The scope of each certification must be defined. In order to obtain meaningfulness, the criteria must be clearly assigned, formulated and above all be testable resp. measurable.
We ensure these two quality features already during standard and criteria development. It is important to distinguish between product certifications and their criteria referring to the product only, while CSE certification is a combination of management, company and product certification.
Another quality feature is the audit frequency - how often a company is audited. Of course, a complete monitoring is not possible. We hold annual audits for a reasonable period to ensure our ambitious goals. The basis of the certification is therefore an assessment of the past 12 months in order to initiate possibly necessary actions for the future.
The audit process for product certification remains the same. Although the audit for the CSE takes place annualy, its scope varies. Management systems can not be implemented within one year and existing ones can not be changed within only 12 months. In this respect, the first audit is the most comprehensive. The two follow-up audits are more of a surveillance nature. In them is the adherence to the absolute criteria, the product-related criteria and if necessary. the fulfillment of measures for the correction of deviations etc. in the center. In the 4th year a more comprehensive audit will take place again.
The communication with the certification authority fulfills another quality feature in our eyes. Through a regular exchange of information, GfaW, as the standard owner, remains close to the standard users and receives information on the meaningfulness, manageability and lasting benefit of the criteria at an early stage. We enforce this claim through at least one monthly contact with the certification body.
Training and further education of the auditors are another important factor in ensuring the quality of certifications. GfaW conducts training at least once a year.
A complaint management is ensured by the GfaW by requiring the ISO 17062 for the certification bodies. Complaints to us are handled directly by the management and are integrated into our principle of continuous improvement.
In all our decisions, we keep the above principles in mind. Criteria are always made with the idea of generating added value in the sense of sustainability. As we have said, a comprehensive understanding of sustainability is a prerequisite: ecological, social and economic aspects are taken into account at the same time. Each new criterion - whether in a new standard or as an update to existing standards - must answer the following questions with "yes":
- Does the criterion meet the corresponding scope of the standard?
- Does this criterion provide a differentiator to non-organic product or non-sustainable way of economy?
- Are rebound effects minimized with this criterion?
- Is it measurable? Is it clearly assigned and formulated?
- Does the criterion meet our intention and our definition of sustainability?
Developing new and updating existing standards is done in accordance with our vision and inspired by the desires we receive. Currently, this is the area of responsibility of the management. If the daily business, research or expert interviews provide them with information that requires a change in the standards, the process proceeds as follows:
The management prepares a draft, which will be discussed at the next working group meeting with business and science stakeholders. If there is an urgent update, those stake holders will also be contacted directly. The results of the working groups can be found in the updated draft of the standard. This draft is sent for comment to all stakeholders and those who are concerned (certification body, customers, experts). In the last round, in which the comments are incorporated, there is a final opportunity to make changes. The adopted changes, whose versions are marked with numbers, are included in the updated standard. The current standard is available online at any time www.gfaw.eu/download. Inquiries will be answered promptly by the management.
The working groups generally meet when it is required. By now the working groups meet usually once a year. They are called by the management of GfaW.
The public is invited to participate. She can contact the GfaW via contact form, e-mail or telephone. Especially in the area of the CSE label, GfaW is in contact with stakeholders and consumers,
Of course, as a developer and owner of the most demanding and comprehensive sustainability standard, we also abide by its principles. Many criteria of the CSE standard for manufacturing companies are not relevant for GfaW as a service provider. However, we meet the conditions concerning us conscientiously.
In our office, we only use articles from sustainable wholesale "memo" and use recycled paper. If PCs or other electronic devices need to be purchased new, they also come from "memo": https://www.memo.de/
Our hosting provider is carbon neutral and supports environmental projects: https://www.df.eu/en/company/climaneutrales-hosting/
Both electricity and gas is provided by Greenpeace-Energy. In addition to the legally required separate waste system (waste paper, yellow sack, etc.), we rely on internal recycling, for example in the case of single-sided paper or packaging material. For the cleaning of the rooms we use the cleaning agents of our CSE pioneers Sonett and Sodasan. And of course, the idea of sufficiency reflects all working processes, from consumables to travel expenses.
Our employees, who are currently all freelancers, plan their working hours freely and have the opportunity to work in their home office. Regular meetings ensure transparency in the structure of flat hierarchies, in which suggestions and impulses from all participants are seen as potential. The personal well-being of our employees and partners forms the basis of a trustful, successful cooperation.
Partnerships that we have are designed for the long term and follow the shared value principle. See more at https://gfaw.eu/network-and-workgroups/
At present GfaW does not generate any profits. As soon as surpluses will be achieved with the "adult" GmbH, they will flow into a charitable foundation whose foundation is about to begin.
Our current sustainability goals include the introduction of a system to comply with our Travel Policy, the introduction of ISO 14001 and socio-environmental accounting.