Environmental award accreditation scheme launched

A new scheme to audit and accredit the organisers of environmental awards has been launched by the Royal Society of Arts with support from the Environment Department.

The RSA estimates that there are some 300 environmental and sustainability awards open to companies. However, their effectiveness varies considerably, and potential sponsors and entrants can be unsure about the quality and validity of some awards.

The RSA has produced guidance for awards organisers. Those who can demonstrate compliance with the guidance can be accredited by the RSA for three years. Members of RSA's environmental forum will conduct the audit. The RSA also provides a database of awards.

The guidance says that the main objective of an award should be to stimulate the adoption of environmental good practice. A major criterion is that organisers must demonstrate that an award scheme's judges are independent of the sponsor or other influences, and that the process is open to scrutiny and completely impartial. The RSA has also published guidance for entrants into awards schemes.

Three organisers have been accredited so far: the Environment Agency, for its water efficiency awards; Biffa, for its Biffaward scheme; and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' award sponsored by Entec.

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