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The Long and Winding Road for Green Startups

Entrepreneurs bring plenty of enthusiasm but often lack experience in getting their products certified.

Juni Cosmetics founder Madeleine White.

Juni Cosmetics founder Madeleine White.

Source: Juni Cosmetics

Greg Pilley has spent much of his adult life on green endeavors. After earning a degree in marine conservation and working in sustainable farming, in 2006 he opened Stroud Brewery, a producer of organic IPAs, lagers, and exotic varieties such as elderflower-infused pale ale. But getting eco-friendly credentials for his venture, which sits a couple hours west of London, was a huge undertaking for Pilley, who spent long nights poring over data regarding the source of raw materials and the energy consumption of his processes. “It was pretty much a six-month exercise,” he says.

A company whose green claims are vetted and certified by a trusted organization can gain a competitive edge as consumers become increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases. For small and medium-size businesses (SMEs) that struggle to find the resources, time, or skills to wade through the complex bureaucratic processes, the intensity of the process can be overwhelming, and the costs can be prohibitive. Only 11% of small businesses in the U.K. measure their carbon impact, according to a July survey by the British Chambers of Commerce.