The Sustainability Score.

What is the Sustainability Score?

It can be difficult to determine if something you are looking to buy really is a sustainable product. “Eco”, “Renewable” “All-Natural”, and “Locally Produced” are all great words to describe the initiatives of sustainable materials and production, however these will remain simple buzz words unless we all agree on what these measure and how business standards to meet these are set in place.

Such standards are currently out of reach in many industries like ours due to the lack of transparency in material supply and production processes. An information veil seems to exist between the purchaser of products or services and the manufacturing suppliers of that product. The lack of clarity to where materials come from, and how they are produced and processed, leaves the purchaser powerless in objectively deciding which is the right option for them at the enviro-social price they are willing to pay.

At the Footprint Hub, we have identified the need for a transparent system of labelling not from the perspective of marketers, but from the end consumers. Our aim is to help conscious consumers, like you, make straightforward, confident decisions about the products you buy.

So, we’ve devised a simple and effective scoring system, that provides an overall sustainability score (or clinical design score) for each product we produce. This means, you can tell at a glance, how a product measures up in terms of it’s environmental and social impact.

Download a copy of our Orthosis Review Matrix here.

Simple. Clear. Objective.

Let's Take a Look at How our Sustainability Score Works.

What We Rate.

Our sustainability scoring system is unique to our industry. If you happen to find another, please let us know where and when you found it at info@footprinthub.com. We are looking to advocate and coordinate with our fellow manufacturing competitors to bring you, our industry and the planet consistency of information and a true picture of the products ans services you choose.

The Footprint Hub sustainability rating system provides an overview of each product’s sustainability, taking into account 8 key categories for determining the environmental and social impact of a product.

The 8 categories are:

  • A. Eco-Friendly Materials
  • B. Eco-Friendly Processes
  • C. Transparency of Harmful Chemicals (Use or Composition)
  • D. Circular to Zero-Wastage Procedures
  • E. Social Sustainability
  • F. Closed Loop Recycled Packaging
  • G. Product Miles
  • H. Recognised Green Certifications

How We Rate: Our Sustainability Score.

Products are rated from 5 (Great) to 1 (Avoid if You Can) in each of the eight categories. We look at green products, the sustainable materials that make them up as well as several other indicators of sustainability. The product’s average score is then calculated to provide an overall sustainability rating.

Certifications, accreditations and other standard systems play a key role in informing our assessments. Full marks are often only awarded if a product has a credible, third-party certification.

Let’s have a closer look at how the scoring works within each category.

Calculating A Products Overall Sustainability Score.

To calculate a product’s overall sustainability score, we add together the scores for each category, and then divide this total by 8 (the number of categories) to find the average score.

This average score is then the overall sustainability score for the product. For example, a product receives the following scores under each category:

  • A. Eco-Friendly Materials – 5 points
  • B. Eco-Friendly Processes – 4 points
  • C. Transparency of Harmful Chemicals – 3 points
  • D. Circular to Zero-Wastage Procedures – 4 points
  • E. Social Sustainability – 4 points
  • F. Closed Loop Recycled Packaging – 5 points
  • G. Product Miles – 5 points
  • H. Recognised Green Certifications – 4 points

Total Score = 34 points.
Average Score: 34 / 8 = 4.25

So the overall sustainability score for this product is 4.25 out of 5.

Girl in a jacket

And that’s it!

Category A: Eco-Friendly Materials.

This category looks at what materials a product is made from and the impact that these materials have on the environment and our health. We take into account the whole life-cycle of the product such as Natural Rubber, from how raw materials are extracted or grown, to how they are recycled or disposed of at the product’s end-of-life.

The product has to meet one of the features listed below in order to be given the corresponding score.

Great

  • The product is made from 100% sustainably grown materials, e.g. bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, sustainable timber. The product will have a recognized certification for this e.g. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • The product is made from 100% reused or recycled or biodegradable materials,
  • Maintains current certification with the EU Ecolabel system.
  • Made from high quality, long-lasting material e.g. stainless steel.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • No certification, but it is made from a majority of sustainably grown materials,
  • The product is made from a majority of reused or recycled materials, or
  • It is partly biodegradable.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Some effort has been made to include sustainable materials in the product’s design but the overall impact is negligible.
  • Effective whole-of-life management of product is available at an added cost.
  • Consideration of the products durability allows it a longer useable lifespan and hence lower long term impact when used appropriately.
Score: 3 / 5

You need to be a Little Picky

  • Use and product lifespan need to be weighed against destructive nature of the product manufacture.
  • Minimal effort has been made towards using sustainable materials
  • The majority of materials are of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, non-recycled origin.
  • Overall the net environmental position is negative to produce the product.
  • The products durability allows it a longer useable lifespan.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Most parts production of this product or the processes it uses are unmanaged and wasteful.
  • The product is made from materials that are non-renewable, non-recycled, non-biodegradable.
  • The choice of processes to manufacture destructive to the environment and non-controlled.
  • Plastic products which are not able or priced to be recycled.
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • The production of this product or the processes it uses is taking us backwards.
  • The product is made from materials that are non-renewable, non-recycled, non-biodegradable.
  • The processes it uses are destructive to the environment and non-controlled with regard to their socio-environmental impacts.
  • Products and bi-products are not able to be recycled and are actively adding to the load on the environment. 
  • Adding to the environmental load that many initiatives are trying to reverse.
Score: 0 / 5
Category B: Eco-Friendly Processes.

This category looks at what processes a product is manufactured by and the impact that these have on the environment and our health. We take into account the whole life-cycle of the product such as the processes of extracting the material from the raw material form, the processes used in manufacturing the product and the energy and processes used to recycle or dispose of the product at the end-of-its-useful-life.

The product production process has to meet one of the features listed below in order to be given the corresponding score.

Great

  • The chemicals and chemical reactions used in the manufacture of the product are natural and/or 100% neutral impact to the environment (i.e. zero pollution).
  • Closed loop chains and efficient production management techniques;
    • the process achieves 100% yield of the base materials required to manufacture the product.
    • The energy consumed in manufacture is >90% efficient (i.e. variable speed motors, energy recovery systems, machine idle times minimised).
  • The source of energy used to process the product is sourced from a certified sustainable sources (i.e. wind, solar or hydroelectric).
  • All shavings, glues or bi-products from the manufacture of the product are reused or recycled.
  • All jigs, templates and moulds used in the production process are made from 100% biodegradable materials, or from high quality, long-lasting material that is maintained in operating condition e.g. stainless steel.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • No Certification, however the processes are managed and run by greater than 80% renewable, well managed energy sources.
  • Wastage is minimised at >80% yields and the waste produced is appropriately fed into a recognised recycle chain.
  • Pollution is minimised (dry, or near-dry, machining that uses no coolant or de-burring, without the use of chemicals).
  • Time processes are maximised to yield no greater than 20% machine idle time.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Some investment in effective production management techniques has been made in the production of the product;
    • sustainable energy consumption,
    • waste management,
    • pollution elimination,
    • recycling and
    • time management
  • Overall impact is low and requires further management.
Score: 3 / 5

Need to be a Little Picky

  • Minimal effort has been made towards using sustainable processes
  • The sustainable nature of the product comes from the base materials used, however their process of manufacture may;
    • consumes high amounts of non-renewable energy
    • contain unmanaged wasteful processes
    • be pollutive 
    • be not recycled appropriately 
    • be time ineffective 
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Minimal effort has been made towards using sustainable processes
  • The majority of processes;
    • consume high amounts of non-renewable energy
    • contain unmanaged wasteful processes
    • are pollutive 
    • are not recycled appropriately 
    • are time ineffective
  • Across the board investment in sustainable manufacturing is still required.
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • The production of this product or the processes it uses is taking us backwards.
  • The product is made from energy sources that are non-renewable, non-recycled, non-sustainable.
  • The processes it uses are destructive to the environment and non-controlled with regard to their socio-environmental impacts.
  • The process of recycling materials required toxic chemicals, high energy consumption ans is highly pollutive.
Score: 0 / 5
Category C: Chemical Transparency.

This category represents an attempt to make the use of Harmful Chemicals (Use or Composition) transparent to the consumer. In this category, a high score is awarded for products that are certified eco or have been independently tested and verified to be free from harmful chemicals. Only products with a recognized certification, score 5 points.

ISO 14000 is an international standard whose purpose is to help companies to implement an environmental management system to help them reduce their negative impacts on the environment. There are requirements for certification, continuous improvement and external audits.

Great

  • Has achieved certification
    • It has a recognized chemical toxicity certification e.g. ISO 14000
    • Product has an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification (fiber), or
    • A Green Guard, or Green Seal certification
    • Maintains current certification with the EU Ecolabel system.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • No certification but the majority of the product’s materials are;
    • organic/natural/chemical-free,
    • Natural rubbers sourced from sustainable growing methods
    • Plant-based oil derivatives from a sustainable source
    • Bamboo fabrics processed using the Lyocell method,
    • Water based glues from sustainably managed sources or
    • 80-95% of the product is made from reclaimed ocean plastics 
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Some effort has been made to reduce the product’s potential toxicity (i.e. BPA plastics), or
  • 10 – 80% mix with certified renewed materials (when quality is uncertain).
Score: 3 / 5

Need to be a Little Picky

  • Minimal effort has been made towards using non-toxic chemicals in the material and/or production processes
  • The non toxic nature of the product comes from the base materials used, however their process of manufacture may;
    • use  high amounts of toxic chemicals to act as reagents in the manufacturing process (ie blue dye in materials).
    • contain unmanaged wasteful uses of toxic chemicals
    • be pollutive 
    • be not 100% contained
    • employ the use of toxic chemicals for the sole purpose of being time competitive. 
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Minimal effort has been made towards using non-toxic chemicals in the material and/or production processes
  • The process of manufacture;
    • uses high amounts of toxic chemicals to act as reagents in the manufacturing process (ie blue dye in materials).
    • contains unmanaged wasteful uses of toxic chemicals
    • are pollutive 
    • are not 100% contained
    • employ the use of toxic chemicals for the sole purpose of being time competitive. 
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • The production of this product or the processes and chemicals it uses is taking us backwards.
  • The product is made from non-sustainable, non-renewable, pollutive toxic chemicals.
  • The processes it uses are destructive to the environment and non-controlled with regard to their socio-environmental impacts.
  • The process of recycling materials required toxic chemicals, high energy consumption ans is highly pollutive.
Score: 0 / 5
Category D: Zero Waste Protocols.

The goal with zero-waste is to prevent items being sent to landfill and keep resources in circulation for as long as possible. Products that receive a high score are well-made, built to last, re-useable, repairable and won’t end up in landfill when they reach their end-of-life.

Products that are compostable or safely biodegradable (meaning they will decompose without releasing harmful chemicals into the environment or posing a danger to wildlife) also score highly.

Great

  • The product is a “zero-waste” product. This includes products that are high quality and indefinitely reusable, e.g. stainless steel water bottles, or
  • It can be reused several times and that are 100% compostable/safely biodegradable, e.g. organic cloth bags and beeswax wraps.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • The product has a limited life-span/cannot be re-used but is 100% compostable/safely biodegradable, that is, paper/cardboard.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • The product cannot be re-used and is not biodegradable but some effort has been made to reduce waste, e.g. the product is 100% recyclable and is also easy to recycle, or
  • Safe biodegradability or recycling is uncertain.
Score: 3 / 5

You need to be a Little Picky

  • The product has a short life-span.
  • The majority of materials cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable.
  • The best prefabricated insoles typically fit into this category.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Most parts production of this product or the processes it uses are unmanaged and wasteful.
  • The product cannot be reused or recycled and is not biodegradable, or
  • Single-use, disposable items, including single-use plastics, score here.
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • The production of this product or the processes it uses is taking us backwards.
  • The product is made from materials that are non-renewable, non-recycled, non-biodegradable and leech into the ecosystem over time.
  • The processes it uses to re-capture the product from our environment are highly un-sustainable and destructive.
  • Products and bi-products are not able to be recycled and are actively adding to the load on the environment. 
  • Adding to the environmental load that many initiatives are trying to reverse.
Score: 0 / 5
Category E: Social Sustainability.

This category is concerned with the social aspects of sustainability including worker’s rights, fair trade, and how businesses make positive contributions to society.

Products and processes that put people before profit receive a high score here. Social enterprises (businesses that have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents) receive 5 points. Certifying as a social enterprise such as the Gamechangers League or B Corporation proves that a business is meeting the highest standards for social and environmental performance and also receives 5 points. 

Businesses that support registered social charities also score highly.

Great

  • To score full marks in the social sustainability category, the company needs to have relevant certification, e.g. Fairtrade certification, WRAP certification, or 
  • Be a certified B Corporation, or
  • Part of the Game Changers league of companies, or
  • A registered social enterprise in an appropriately internationally certified form.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • No certifications but the company makes a strong, positive contribution to society, e.g. by donating a percentage of profits to charity.
  • The company employs and maintains a workforce outside the country of manufacture at above minimal award rates. 
  • The company pays appropriate tax on all products and services sold in the country of purchase.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Evidence of positive social benefits absent or difficult to find.
  • The company employs and maintains a workforce within the country of manufacture at minimal award rates. 
  • The company pays appropriate tax on all products and services sold in the country of purchase.
  • No evidence suggesting awareness or positive investment in the providence of their materials, products or manufacturing processes sourced form countries outside of their place of sale.
Score: 3 / 5

Need to be a Little Picky

  • Little or no evidence of positive social benefits.
  • The company employs and maintains a workforce outside the country of manufacture at or below minimal award rates in the country of sale. 
  • The company legally avoids paying tax on all products and services sold in the country of purchase through unfair accounting practices.
  • No investigations into the providence of their products or manufacturing processes sourced form other countries.
  • Per unit cost is the primary driver of decisions.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Some concerns/questions raised regarding labor standards and worker’s rights in all regions that the company obtains raw materials from and/or operates within.
  • Economies of scale and/or purchasing power creates an un-even trade position of supplier to consumer.
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • Reports of unethical sourcing of labor, poor standards with regards to workers’ rights in the country of sale, manufacture and/or sources of materials.
Score: 0 / 5
Category F: Closed Loop Packaging.
Product packaging accounts for 40% of the total global plastics produced every year.

Packaging is a visible issue in our everyday lives. We handle dozens of products every day, including food items, cosmetics, and various household products. Sustainable packaging is packaging that has less of an impact on the environment. We examine a product’s packaging based on the “3 R’s”, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reducing packaging is the ultimate aim, followed by packaging that can be re-used and then packaging that can be recycled or that is compostable.

Great

  • No packaging,
  • Minimal, bio-degradable packaging of product
  • All components can be returned and re-used into the same orthosis manufacturing processes
  • Is made from 100% recycled materials.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • Packaging is made from sustainable materials e.g. FSC certified paper/cardboard, or
  • Is easily recyclable
  • 100% recyclable base product and packaging
  • Made from sustainably managed renewable materials.
  • Easily recyclable with instructions included.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Recycling may be more difficult, or
  • Readily available access to information regarding the recycling process provided (like this page!).
Score: 3 / 5

Need to be a Little Picky

  • Parts of the recycling of base product or  packaging are difficult:
    • energy intensive recycling process
    • difficult to separate some of the component parts without chemicals
    • design does not consider end of life disassembly
  • No access to information regarding the recycling process provided.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Minimal effort towards closed loop design, production or delivery processes.

  • However, base materials have an innate recyclability with difficulty

    • energy intensive recycling process
    • inability to separate some of the component parts easily / without chemicals
    • design does not consider end of life disassembly
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • Design, Product and Packaging is
    • made from single-use plastic,
    • not biodegradable or
    • not recyclable.
Score: 0 / 5
Category G: Product Miles.

For a traditionally manufactured synthetic EVA orthosis, the impact of miles travelled, as measured in carbon released into the atmosphere is 4-8% of the total carbon produced. This 4-8% represents the same volumes of carbon released as products travelling similar distances (like foodstuffs), however is only a small part of the environmental load of synthetic EVA as a product. We must consider this when evaluating this material (its source, production and processing) as part of your chosen orthotic therapies.

The product miles category is concerned with how many miles a product must travel to reach the consumer. Products that are manufactured and then transported from across the other side of the world are less sustainable because they use up more fossil fuels, leaving a bigger carbon footprint behind. 

Locally produced products like this use up far less energy in transportation and also benefit local businesses and economies like you and your local community. This is the essence of the Footprint Hub. We pool the expertise of design and management remotely without the commute, and produce products in locally available materials, thanks to the technologies available in business management and additive manufacture.

Great

  • Products sourced and manufactured in within a 100km radius of your delivery location.
  • Engagement of carbon positive or carbon neutral transport and logistics agents.
  • Batch transportation recognising sustainable methods
  • Time frames realistic to transportation methods and processes used to deliver product.
Score: 5 / 5

Pretty Good

  • Great

    • Products sourced and manufactured in your country of sale.
    • Engagement of carbon carbon neutral transport and logistics agents.
    • Back Filled Transportation recognising sustainable methods and time frames.
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • Products manufactured and supplied from economic regions immediately neighbouring your country of sale
  • <2000 km travelled
  • Back filled transportation with sustainable methods and time frames.
Score: 3 / 5

You need to be a Little Picky

  • Products manufactured and supplied from economic regions with large large volumes to your country of sale where economies of scale allow maximised use of fossil fuels.
  • Non-Renewable energies used in the transportation process.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • Products manufactured and supplied from economic regions not neighbouring your country of sale.
  • Trade and supply chains unmanaged and un-sustainable by their nature.
  • Distance travelled to manufacture is greater than 5,000 km
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • Where there is an absence of information.
  • Product origins from a region non-participating in the paris agreement protocols.
  • Distance travelled to manufacture is greater than 10,000 km
Score: 0 / 5
Category H: Certified Green.

There are a whole host of green product certifications out there that cover different types of products. We’ve added a sustainability score category dedicated to acknowledging the number of green certifications that a product carries.

This category also allows for the recognition of additional sustainability features that are not covered by any of the other categories. For example, products that have an animal welfare certification can achieve extra marks here.

Score: 5 / 5
Score: 4 / 5

It’s a Start

  • The supplier is working towards certification.
  • There may be independent assessments / third party reports relating to sustainability features, or
  • Factual, concrete claims from manufacturer.
Score: 3 / 5

Need to be a Little Picky

  • Unclear information provided.
  • Claims from manufacturer cannot be independently substantiated.
Score: 2 / 5

Some Fundamental Problems

  • No information able to be provided.
  • Supplier not overly concerned with the green nature of their product.
Score: 1 / 5

Avoid if You Can

  • No information provided.
  • Nature of product, process, material and/or price point indicates non-sustainable or socially destructive processes being used. 
Score: 0 / 5