How does it work?

As the trade federation of the manufacturers, importers and distributors of school, office and stationery products, Bosta, Belgian Office Products and Stationery Trade Association, wants to contribute to the sector’s increased sustainability by building up Responsible Office.

Responsible Office has ascertained that both supplying: manufacturers, importers and distributors, and purchasing parties: organizations, companies and governments which strive for better sustainability, are extremely eager to take said sustainability seriously and harbour concrete intentions to put these plans into practice.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is not simple
There are many certificates on offer, many of which are not independent but rather constitute an attempt at drawing the buyer’s attention to the so-called green product. This so-called practice of green washing, communicating a product which is not necessarily more eco-friendly in the greenest of ways, is something Responsible Office will not support.

So, which are the significant certificates?
Again, not an easy question to answer, since there are many thousands. To begin with, in order to be eligible for this Bosta initiative, the certificates should be issued by independent organizations which have thoroughly proven their worth in the domains of sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility CSR. Responsible Office will only consider certificates which are universally accepted in our region and which have been reliably validated by government instances and big corporations.
Responsible Office has elected to only offer a platform to brand name importers and brand manufacturers on this website. You will not find the distributors of these products here. You will be referred to the websites of the participating manufacturers  and importers instead, where a list of distribution partners is nearly always at hand. This allows for the user or buyer to first select the right product on the Responsible Office website and contact the distributor of his choice to purchase the product afterwards.

Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility?
Responsible Office chooses both. It is to nobody’s advantage that products, even when they are made from sustainable materials, are manufactured under bad conditions.
A sustainable product made by a manufacturer who can provide ISO9001: quality management, with continuous improvement as a function of customer satisfaction and ISO14001: environmental management, purchase of sustainable resources or semi-manufactured goods, continuous improvement as a function of sustainability and the environment, will consequently obtain a higher mark than the sustainable product of a manufacturer who cannot provide these certificates.
EMAS, Eco Management Audit Scheme, has the same environmental requirements as ISO14001, with the exception that EMAS attaches great importance to internal and external communication and transparency about environmental performance.

How are products ranked?
When a manufacturer or importer is able to provide certificates at company level (the plant where the product is being manufactured), the product obtains the following marks:
ISO9001: 1 point
ISO14001: 3 points
EMAS: 3 points

When the manufacturer / importer can also provide certificates at product level, the product will obtain the following additional marks:
Der Blaue Engel.............................................Usage of recycled or recyclable materials
FSC®................................................................Forest Stewardship Council: materials from responsibly managed forests and/or recycled origin
PEFC™.............................................................Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification: materials from responsibly managed forests
Nordic Swan...................................................Scandinavian eco label
NF400..............................................................French certificate for sustainable writing utensils
NF335..............................................................French certificate for refurbished toner cartridges
NF316..............................................................French certificate for enveloppes & postal bags
NF293..............................................................French certificate for interior & furniture
Energy Star.....................................................American label for energy efficiency  
Österreichische Umweltzeichen...............Austrian ecolabel  
Each of these listed product certificates  is awarded 2 points.           

EU Ecolabel....................................................European environmental label recognized by all countries of the European Union, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. One of the strengths of the EU Ecolabel is that the environmental criteria relate to the entire life cycle of a product or service. From raw materials, energy use to harmful substances and waste.
This product certificate is awarded 3 points.

And last but not least, we also have Cradle to Cradle or abbreviated C2C, literally cradle to cradle. This product certificate is a clear example of circular economy.
Cradle to Cradle ...........................................International label and business model with the goal of designing products so that they are safe and reusable from start to finish. For this product certificate, we have determined the following points as there are 5 levels with increasingly stringent environmental requirements:
C2C Basic: 2 points
C2C Bronze: 3 points
C2C Silver: 4 points
C2C Gold: 5 points
C2C Platinum: 6 points                    

For example:
a product manufactured by a company with ISO9001 and PEFC™ certificates, obtains 3 points. This product will be ranked higher than a product with just the  PEFC™ certificate that wil obtain 2 points.

For his product to appear on this website the manufacturer or importer needs at least 1 certificate at the product level.
The product with the highest ranking is the one with the most certificates from independent instances.
This selection may change in the future. Any changes will be applied after due deliberation with the authorities. Current laws and regulations will be adhered to. Every change will be described here, on this website. Registered users will be notified and informed proactively.

Why should you register as a user?
A user may register on this website by creating an account.
All current and applicable privacy laws are respected and the user can, at any time, request his information or have it removed by sending a mail with stop Responsible-Office in the subject line to this mail address.
Registered users can save their favourite products and download information on these favourites (for use in a price request, for instance). The registered user can also send a message to the listed contact of a manufacturer or importer directly, so as to obtain additional information or pass on a comment. Any news pertaining to this website will be sent to registered users only, provided they have not opted out of the newsletter.

What advantages are there for manufacturers and importers?
By drawing the consumer’s attention to genuinely sustainable products, this website ultimately enables the manufacturer or importer to sell more of these products. Any manufacturer or importer who takes the future of his business, our planet and the people who follow in our footsteps seriously, will see an increased return on investment by investing in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Logically, more will be invested in the continued development and distribution of this type of products. A win-win situation, not in the least for the future of our environment.

Disclaimer
With this website, Responsible Office aims for accuracy and completeness. Responsible Office monitors the published information. When a user reports incorrect information on the website, this will be rectified forthwith. Should a user fall victim to dishonest practices by an manufacturer or importer, or is provided with information which contradicts the information on the website, he or she can report this as well. Responsible Office will look into every report as quickly as possible.
In this case, the manufacturer or importer will receive a request to rectify the situation. It is possible that the products of said manufacturer or importer will be taken offline temporarily or definitively without the manufacturer or importer being able to file for damages.
Manufacturers and importers pay a small annual fee per published product to cover the costs of this website.
The manufacturers and importers provide a declaration on honour in which they state that all information they provide is accurate and complete. This declaration on honour is available as a downloadable pdf for every manufacturer on this website.
Moreover, this site offers downloadable pdf’s of all the certificates provided by the manufacturer or importer to ensure integration of his products on this website.
While taking the utmost care in providing accurate information, Responsible Office cannot be held liable for the accuracy or validity of the information provided by manufacturers or importers. This website facilitates the choice of a sustainable and responsible product. When the purchasing party is compelled by law or internal procedures, to provide official copies of certificates, it can do so through the selected distribution partner or the manufacturer or importer.
Responsible Office informs, but cannot be held liable for the information provided. Responsible Office will accept no responsibility for direct or indirect damages resulting from the disclosure of information, or any other action, neither with respect to the manufacturer,
the importer, the distributor, the user of this website, the purchasing party, nor any other party.