The complexity of “what makes a product green?” and the proliferation of eco-labels and green product claims has created considerable market confusion and, some would argue, an impasse to further progress toward sustainability. In response, several robust efforts have been underway in recent years, seeking to: (1) build the scientific foundation for greening products, (2) assist manufacturers in measuring and communicating their progress, and (3) engage and train buyers on how to use their purchasing power to realize environmental and public health goals. However, the lack of a central, organizing effort to strategically align these efforts toward mutual goals, and to fill key gaps in tools and guidance, reflected a missing link in truly transforming the market toward a more sustainable economy.
In an effort to confront this problem, the Keystone Policy Center facilitated the Green Products Roundtable, a stakeholder group comprised of approximately 35 members representing different perspectives, including manufacturers, retailers, purchasers, distributers, certifiers, and other experts and thought leaders. The five-year dialogue’s work advanced product sustainability by providing leadership and guidance to improve the decision-making capabilities of product manufacturers, institutional buyers, businesses, and consumers. Keystone played an important incubating role for this initiative, enabling it to gain traction and momentum. In 2012 the Green Products Roundtable launched as an independent entity, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, which focuses on guidance and leadership recognition in sustainable procurement.