Infor­mation about the We Care label for com­panies

How does a company achieve We Care cer­ti­fi­cation?

Further infor­mation for com­panies on the full We Care standard can be found here. We would be delighted to provide further infor­mation during an initial con­sul­tation with you. If you are inte­rested in moving forward with the cer­ti­fi­cation pro­gramme, you can then apply to the FiBL to undergo auditing and become part of the pro­gramme and, if appro­priate, you can also apply to use the We Care label. This will be for­ma­lised in a licence agreement with the FiBL. An inspection body approved for the We Care standard is selected and an inspection agreement is con­cluded with that body.

FiBL Germany e.V. issues the We Care label when the audit has been suc­cess­fully com­pleted and the inspection body has sub­mitted an audit report. Depending on the auditing level (basic or advanced), com­panies can then use the We Care label in their cor­porate com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

What is the We Care label?

The We Care label demons­trates that a company has been cer­tified according to a new, com­pre­hensive and inde­pendent sus­taina­bility standard. The standard applies to food busi­nesses and focuses in par­ti­cular on supply chains. It offers scope to inte­grate and com­plement other rigorous stan­dards. We Care the­refore closes any gaps in the existing stan­dards and sets a new benchmark. The We Care logo con­firms that the cer­tified com­panies’ management systems operate in accordance with envi­ron­mental and CSR cri­teria both at their business sites and across all their supply chains. The cri­teria against which com­panies are inspected are docu­mented in the We Care cer­ti­fi­cation standard.

What are the benefits of the We Care standard?

We Care is a com­pre­hensive sus­taina­bility standard for the food industry, which focuses espe­cially on CSR and envi­ron­mental aspects across all supply chains. It is a management system standard that audits and verifies whether com­panies are sys­te­ma­ti­cally ope­rating in a sus­tainable and part­nership-based way across all of their supply chains. This is why We Care exceeds the scope of other stan­dards.

We Care standard improves the management systems of cer­tified com­panies and ensures con­tinual impro­vement of their sus­taina­bility per­for­mance. It helps com­panies to reco­gnise the validity of dif­ferent cer­ti­fi­ca­tions held by their sup­pliers. We Care cer­ti­fi­cation proves to external sta­ke­holders that your company has been inde­pendently and com­pre­hen­sively audited. This gives them full con­fi­dence that you are adhering to rigorous sus­taina­bility cri­teria across all your supply chains.

Cer­ti­fi­cation can also support your risk management, par­ti­cu­larly in light of the heigh­tened national and inter­na­tional debate con­cerning cor­porate respon­si­bility and fairness across incre­a­singly inter­na­tional supply chains.

What is a management system – and what does it have to do with We Care?

In order to reliably meet self-imposed requi­re­ments, such as “flawless quality” or “sus­taina­bility management”, many com­panies set up internal systems and mecha­nisms using pro­cesses such as quality and sus­taina­bility management. These kinds of management systems map out and manage the required tasks, pro­cesses and respon­si­bi­lities, taking into account objec­tives and general con­di­tions. These sets of rules also help com­panies to con­ti­nuously improve their sus­taina­bility per­for­mance. When app­lying We Care as a sus­taina­bility standard, pro­cesses and docu­ments are used to check whether a company is ful­filling its sus­taina­bility claims every step of the way, for example, in terms of fair supply chains or envi­ron­mentally-friendly ways of working.

Which types of company can become We Care cer­tified?

Any food company that imports, pro­cesses or pro­duces food them­selves can become We Care cer­tified. This also applies to who­le­salers and retailers that partly or exclu­sively use third parties to produce raw mate­rials or finished pro­ducts.

Which cri­teria does We Care monitor spe­ci­fi­cally?

The cer­ti­fi­cation process involves a com­pre­hensive audit of a company’s sus­tainable business pro­cesses. This covers four key areas of action: cor­porate gover­nance, supply chain management, envi­ron­mental management and employee respon­si­bility. Each area is sub­di­vided into 164 cri­teria / The areas of action are sub­di­vided into 164 cri­teria. Envi­ron­mental management and employee respon­si­bility apply to the company’s own on-site ope­ra­tions. These two areas focus pri­marily on standard sus­taina­bility issues, for example, GMO-free product ranges, bio­di­versity and animal welfare, reduction of green­house gas emis­sions, bio­di­versity pro­tection and wages that are in line with the minimum wage or collective agree­ments.

Unlike other sus­taina­bility stan­dards, We Care focuses heavily on supply chain management. It spe­cifies in detail how com­panies must take respon­si­bility for their actions throughout their entire supply chains if they wish to achieve We Care cer­ti­fi­cation. This also includes defining and docu­menting all the mea­sures they are under­taking. Com­panies must the­refore establish rules for day-to-day pro­cesses and take immediate action if CSR, envi­ron­mental or animal welfare stan­dards are infringed in any of their supply chains. To achieve cer­ti­fi­cation, a company must also prove that it has deve­loped long-standing and trusted part­nerships with its sup­pliers.

Pro­cu­rement also plays a key role, which involves ensuring that fair prices are paid for raw mate­rials. Sup­pliers must prove that they are We Care com­pliant in order to work with We Care-cer­tified com­panies. To become We Care cer­tified, com­panies must also be able to demons­trate that they oblige their business partners to sign up to a code of conduct in line with CSR stan­dards. They must also check that these com­panies are actually fol­lowing this code of conduct.

Which cer­ti­fi­cation levels does We Care offer?

We Care both basic and advanced cer­ti­fi­cation. Food com­panies that achieve basic level We Care cer­ti­fi­cation are entitled to publicise this achie­vement in their cor­porate com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Advanced cer­ti­fi­cation must be achieved if a company wishes to place the We Care label on its actual pro­ducts.

How can the We Care label be used in a company’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions?

Organic cer­ti­fi­cation con­firms that a product and its ingre­dients have been grown and pro­cessed orga­ni­cally.

The We Care standard examines the goals, rules and docu­men­tation that are used to drive sus­taina­bility on a daily basis at company level. It is a management system standard that checks whether a company is hono­uring its com­mit­ments across the board by focusing on its supply chains and envi­ron­mentally-friendly working prac­tices. This standard the­refore verifies whether com­panies are sys­te­ma­ti­cally ope­rating in a sus­tainable and part­nership-based way across their supply chains. The We Care standard the­refore com­ple­ments other organic stan­dards per­fectly.

What is the dif­fe­rence between the We Care label and the organic label?

Organic cer­ti­fi­cation con­firms that a product and its ingre­dients have been grown and pro­cessed orga­ni­cally.

The We Care standard examines the goals, rules and docu­men­tation that are used to drive sus­taina­bility on a daily basis at company level. It is a management system standard that checks whether a company is hono­uring its com­mit­ments across the board by focusing on its supply chains and envi­ron­mentally-friendly working prac­tices. This standard the­refore verifies whether com­panies are sys­te­ma­ti­cally ope­rating in a sus­tainable and part­nership-based way across their supply chains. The We Care standard the­refore com­ple­ments other organic stan­dards per­fectly.

How does We Care differ from Fair Trade and other sus­taina­bility stan­dards?

The We Care standard goes one step further than other sus­taina­bility stan­dards because it closely examines the way envi­ron­mental and CSR aspects are dealt with across all supply chains. These aspects are also care­fully examined at a company’s own sites. Standard Fair Trade systems and sus­taina­bility labels certify indi­vidual pro­ducts; however, they do not cover all aspects, including a company’s pro­cu­rement prac­tices. We Care the­refore com­ple­ments other We Care cer­ti­fi­ca­tions per­fectly.

Does working towards We Care cer­ti­fi­cation mean a company has to be audited twice?

Many cer­ti­fi­cation systems do not reco­gnise other stan­dards. This means it is often necessary to duplicate effort when seeking to achieve mul­tiple cer­ti­fi­cation. We Care It inte­grates numerous other rigorous stan­dards and com­ple­ments them appro­priately. We Care reco­gnises other equi­valent envi­ron­mental and CSR stan­dards such as the EU’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). This means that com­panies do not have to be audited twice, which avoids unne­cessary costs. The preli­minary stages can be based on a wide variety of existing CSR stan­dards and do not have to focus on just one standard, which would involve having to audit your sup­pliers twice.

Which body is behind the We Care standard and what role does it play?

The German division of the Research Institute of Organic Agri­culture e.V. (FiBL Germany) We Care for the We Care standard. The FiBL holds all the rights to the standard and the We Care label. The high stan­dards of the We Care Care label and its con­tinued deve­lo­pment are assured by a steering com­mittee made up of seven experts who operate under the inde­pendent aus­pices of the Research Institute. The steering com­mittee is We Care’s most senior decision-making body and can make its decisions inde­pendently of the FiBL. The members of the steering com­mittee are appointed on a three-year cycle. Four of its members are per­so­nally appointed from sci­en­tific, research and civil society orga­ni­sa­tions (Öko-Institut, Institute for Eco­lo­gical Eco­nomic Research (IÖW), agroecology.science). The other three members each come from a cer­tified company (manu­fac­turing and trading com­panies) and a cer­ti­fying company; they are each man­dated by com­panies of the same type.

The other three members each come from a cer­tified company (manu­fac­turing and trading com­panies) and a cer­ti­fying company; they are each man­dated by com­panies of the same type. The sci­en­tific insti­tu­tions always provide for the Chair and form a majority in the steering com­mittee.

Why is there a need for another label for the food industry?

There are already numerous cer­ti­fi­cation pro­grammes in place that validate whether pro­ducts are pro­duced in a fair, sus­tainable or organic way at the raw material phase. We Care We Care focuses on sus­taina­bility management during the sub­se­quent phases in the supply chains, for example, when goods are imported, manu­fac­tured and branded. We Care inte­grates numerous other indi­vidual stan­dards and com­ple­ments them appro­priately. It reco­gnises other equi­valent envi­ron­mental and CSR stan­dards. This avoids unne­cessary time and expense because com­panies do not have to duplicate audits or preli­minary pro­cesses.

What exactly does We Care certify?

The We Care Standard is a sus­taina­bility standard. It verifies that food com­panies adopt a sys­te­matic, tar­geted and planned approach to sus­taina­bility and CSR across all their supply chains. The audit examines whether the company has defined its own goals, pro­cesses and mea­sures for spe­cified areas of action. It also examines whether employee tasks and respon­si­bi­lities and docu­men­tation gui­de­lines have been ade­quately defined. The com­pre­hensive audit involves on-the-spot checks which verify whether the requi­re­ments have been imple­mented as part of day-to-day ope­ra­tions.

Does We Care gua­rantee living wages and ensure human rights are pro­tected?

We Care is a sus­taina­bility cer­ti­fi­cation pro­gramme that audits pro­cesses and docu­men­tation at com­panies’ main sites and carries out on-the-spot com­pliance checks with sup­pliers. The audits are based on the 164 cri­teria defined in the standard, which include adhe­rence to human rights stan­dards. (Please refer to the question “What exactly does We Care certify?”) In addition to veri­fying whether there are sys­te­matic pro­cesses and clear docu­men­tation in place, on-the-spot audits are also carried out on sup­pliers as part of the “supply chain management” area of action. The auditor decides which on-the-spot audits will be carried out. Fair remu­ne­ration prac­tices and com­pliance with the Inter­na­tional Labour Orga­niz­ation (ILO) core labour stan­dards are among the cri­teria that are scru­ti­nised. Each company must gua­rantee that spe­cific cri­teria are being met. We Care verifies the evi­dence by scru­ti­nising the docu­men­tation sub­mitted and by car­rying out on-the-spot audits at sup­plier pre­mises.

 

Can other envi­ron­mental or CSR stan­dards be reco­gnised to achieve cer­ti­fi­cation?

Yes. Existing envi­ron­mental and CSR stan­dards are reco­gnised during the cer­ti­fi­cation process. This avoids the spe­cified areas of action having to be audited twice.

Com­panies may accept dif­ferent stan­dards from their supply chain partners as equi­valent proof of com­pliance. Their sup­pliers also do not require cer­ti­fi­cation according to dif­ferent systems, which avoids dupli­cating effort.

How is the standard struc­tured and what is audited?

We Care audits four areas of action that are weighted dif­fer­ently:

  • Cor­porate gover­nance (30%)
  • Supply chain management (30%)
  • Envi­ron­mental management (20%)
  • Employee respon­si­bility (20%)

In each of these, between 8 and 14 sus­taina­bility areas are audited, with 1 to 8 cri­teria for each area. As a sus­taina­bility standard, We Care does not audit a company’s indi­vidual pro­ducts, but focuses instead on its approach to management and docu­men­tation. Achieving We Care cer­ti­fi­cation proves that at its sites and across its supply chains the food company con­cerned is acting in a fair, sus­tainable and socially respon­sible way in accordance with veri­fiable cri­teria.

Who carries out the We Care cer­ti­fi­cation process and how does it work?

Cer­ti­fi­cation is carried out on behalf of FiBL Germany e.V. by cer­ti­fi­cation bodies accredited to assess management systems in accordance with ISO 17021 and/or ISO 17065. Audits take place at twelve-month intervals. Re-cer­ti­fi­cation takes place every three years, with addi­tional inspec­tions in between. The audit takes place at the company’s main pre­mises. On-the-spot checks are also carried out at the company’s sup­pliers.

Does We Care comply with the requi­re­ments of the German Due Dili­gence Supply Chain Act?

The We Care standard was deve­loped over several years through acquiring a prac­tical under­standing of important sus­taina­bility issues.It is run inde­pendently of the German Federal Government’s Due Dili­gence Supply Chain Act as this has not yet come into effect. The We Care standard and the Act both share very similar objec­tives for inter­na­tional supply chains. They both aim to ensure that com­panies comply with socially respon­sible and envi­ron­mentally-friendly stan­dards across all their supply chains for the benefit of people and the envi­ronment. We Care demons­trates that it is pos­sible to apply very stringent stan­dards in practice.

Why can com­panies that are not cer­tified as organic become We Care cer­tified?

The We Care standard aims to promote sus­taina­bility in the food industry. Con­ven­tional com­panies can also commit to making impro­ve­ments in working con­di­tions and envi­ron­mental com­pliance across their supply chains. We Care audits a company’s pro­ce­dures and ope­ra­tional pro­cesses. Com­panies that are not cer­tified as organic can the­refore also become We Care cer­tified if they comply with the standard cri­teria.

However, only com­panies that produce or sell pro­ducts that are at least 80 per cent organic can achieve the advanced level cer­ti­fi­cation, which entitles them to use the We Care label on their pro­ducts.

Further infor­mation

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We Care-Standard – English

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Stand: 17. February 2021

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Contact

Axel Wirz
FiBL Deutschland e.V.
Tel: +49 69 713 7699 – 150
axel.wirz@fibl.org