2022 saw the global regulatory landscape rapidly change as new legislation was passed and proposed with the aim of guiding businesses to be more transparent, more climate-focused, and more sustainable overall.
In the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act included billions of dollars in grants, tax credits, and other incentives to support corporate climate-related projects, and transition to lower carbon technologies and greater energy efficiency. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began the process of revamping its Green Guides, asking corporations and stakeholders to weigh in on the successes and shortcomings of the current guidance and asking for insights on issues such as greenwashing, transparency in sustainability and environmental labeling claims, and guidance on carbon offsets.
NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued proposed greenhouse gas changes for the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that could impact government contractors, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). And the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed greenhouse gas reporting rule could potentially impact publicly traded companies and the private companies within their supply chains.
Simultaneously, two major regulations will impact organizations doing business in the European Union. At the end of the year, the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) began final legal review prior to becoming law, and the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which passed in 2022, went into effect on January 4, 2023. This new law will apply to approximately 50,000 companies that are now required to report on sustainability. In addition, a new law went into effect in January in France restricting Carbon Neutral claims to rigorous metrics.
Throughout our nearly 40 years of business, SCS has worked to keep pace with the ever-changing global regulatory landscape, all with a steadfast focus on providing science-based expertise in the areas of auditing, verification, and certification. As we mentioned last year in our Annual Report, SCS believes this is the most important decade for climate action, and these new regulations reinforce such action by providing additional structure and guidance to enable more companies to advance their corporate climate and sustainability initiatives to help protect the world and all its inhabitants.
As part of our tradition of meeting the needs of companies looking to become better environmental, ethical and climate stewards, SCS launched a new Plant-Based certification program to help distinguish plant-based brands and support transparency and efficacy in product labeling. Our Zero Waste program, which initially focused on corporate facilities, expanded to include zero waste events and projects. And during the year, our team, along with our non-profit standards-setting affiliate, SCS Standards, provided a major overhaul to our Sustainably Grown certification program for agricultural crops, which now allows for additional claims that include Farmworker Protection, Water Conservation, Soil Conservation, Biodiversity Protection, Climate Neutral, and Pollinator Friendly, and recognizes several additional “Trailblazer” accomplishments. This provides new ways for producers to showcase the exceptional management and care they take in their agricultural processes.
SCS also became accredited to audit and certify against three additional standards: the American Tree Farm System Standard (ATFS), which certifies private landowner and family-owned forests; the Bee Better Certification Program with its focus on pollinator best practices; and the Regenerative Organic Certified™ program, which raises the bar on organic foods, textiles and personal care ingredients.
As we continue to move through this decade, we are actively working to forge new partnerships and business relationships with organizations of all sizes and in all regions of the world. Together, we will continue to work to safeguard the future of our planet by protecting our land and natural resources and driving change that is based on science and sound, ethical business practices.