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Demystifying the Netherlands’ Green Key Eco Certification

The Netherlands, best known for its tulips, wooden shoes, windmills, and canals, also has its own eco-label for environmentally friendly businesses called the Green Key Eco Certification (formerly called the Milieubarometer).

Originally created in 1998, the Green Key focuses on “internal and external communications, sustainability in the management of the company, use of energy, gas and water, waste management, transport, food & beverage, gardening, sustainable measures in the office, paper usage, type of printing, and sustainable procurement.

Green Key is administered by the Mark Foundation for Environment, Safety and Quality (KMVK), which encourages entrepreneurs in the tourism industry to improve the sustainable quality and safety of their businesses.

The eco certification is open to all types of tourism businesses and was originally based on the principles of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and the international Green Key standards thereby maintaining criteria for:

  • Environmental management
  • Staff involvement
  • Guest information
  • Water consumption
  • Washing and cleaning product use
  • Waste management
  • Energy usage
  • Purchase of food and beverages from locally produced or organic suppliers
  • Indoor environment and buildings
  • Transport and parking areas
  • Landscaping and parks
  • Office administration

In order to be awarded the Netherlands’ Green Key certification, a tourism business must implement the minimum environmental standards and be in compliance with national environmental legislation. The certified level (bronze, silver or gold) is determined by the number of optional measures also implemented.

Green Key Eco Certification Award Process

There are five steps for a tour operator to be awarded the Green Key certification:

  1. Submit registration and fees to the KMVK Foundation
  2. Submit online a 3 year summary of energy performance as well as a self-assessment checklist
  3. Implement measures necessary for achieving bronze, silver or gold status (depending on preference)
  4. Apply for third-party inspection or “pilot testing” of implemented measures
  5. Submit to an inspection or “pilot test”, which results in certification approval or certification contingent upon evidence provided
  6. Reauthorize certification annually

Click here for a list of Netherlands Green Key Certified Businesses. Please use Google Translate for Dutch to English Translation of website. 


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