Field: Sustainable consumption
Global Technical function: Information sharing
Technical Function Unit: Rating
Geographic Area: Germany

A sustainability traffic light system for products and companies

The WeGreen® Sustainability Traffic Light is a ranking system that rates the quality of environmental and social performance of a product or company and the amount of relevant information available. The system allows for clearer sustainable consumption choices. 

The challenge

Consumers looking for sustainable products face the challenge of incomplete information and large numbers of different ecological and social labels. Comparing different product options and understanding which product would have the least environmental and social impacts are complex tasks - even for the most well-informed consumers.

The innovation

The WeGreen® Sustainability Traffic Light provides an overall assessment of sustainability performance of a product or company, which is easy to understand and compare and therefore enables sustainable consumption. The traffic light shows green for sustainable choices, yellow for medium choices and red for non-sustainable choices. Users can also see which information each rating is based on (using information sharing to facilitate transparency). 

The German company WeGreen® performs a rating of the environmental and social performance of products and companies based on over 400 sustainability labels used in Germany and on scientific publications. Instead of trying to rate the products and companies directly, WeGreen® created a complex algorithm to weight the different dimensions of sustainability on the one side and the quality of the available information on the other side. Sustainability aspects include impacts on the environment, climate, working conditions, society,  health, economic sustainability, levels of transparency and company reputation. The quality of the source is measured against reliability, accessibility, its up-to-date status and its level of detail.

Consumers can search for different products or companies on the WeGreen® website, which links to online shops that sell the products.

WeGreen® also cooperates with ‘barcoo’, a smartphone app which allows users to scan bar codes of products. The WeGreen® ranking is also displayed as part of this app.

Why did it work

The Sustainability Traffic Light was first developed as part of a research project undertaken by the Berlin School of Economics and Law (Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin). WeGreen® cooperated not only with barcoo, which allows consumers to easily apply the traffic light system in their daily shopping, but also with other scientific and NGO partners. The strong partner base allows WeGreen® to perform its rankings in a thorough, robust and effective manner.

By linking the ranking system to online market places, WeGreen® can generate income from purchases initiated from its website.

Further deployment

The Sustainable Traffic Light ranking system has proven successful on the German market and has received increasing public attention. The product and company base that is currently ranked will continue to expand over time. Its maturity level is estimated to be beyond 9 on the GML scale.

Visit the website