GECA's early history and founder
In December 2000 Petar Johnson and a small group of colleagues founded the Environmental Choice Australia ecolabel programme administered by the Australian Environmental Labelling Association (AELA). Peter invested his own funds in the organisation and was appointed CEO. This was the first incarnation of the organisation which would become Good Environmental Choice Australia.
The organisation developed it’s first standards and commenced certification in 2002 after a national consultation process. An advisory board was established that included environmental and sustainability organisations such as Sustainable Business Australia, Greening Australia, EcoBuy, NATA, RMIT, CSIRO as well as a number of prominent ex-conservation group leaders such as Trisha Caswell (Australian Conservation Foundation), Dr Sasha Courville (ANU) and Rick Humphries (Greenpeace).
GECA saw significant growth in the next few years, particularly after a number of its standards were recognised by the then newly formed Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). GECA joined the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) and drew on member organisations for support and ideas.
In 2006, the ecolabel programme was split into two separate entities - Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), a non-profit standards development organisation, and Good Environmental Choice Services Pty Ltd (GECS) an assessment/auditing business.
GECA was created to ensure best practice in the running of the ecolabel – separating out the standards development from the auditing of products and services against those standards. In 2008, Petar resigned as CEO and Chair of GECA to focus on running the assessment/auditing business GECS and in September 2009 resigned completely from the GECA board. GECS acted as GECA’s auditing partner until 31st March 2011.
As founder, CEO and Chair of GECA, Petar was instrumental in bringing whole of life, multi-sector eco-labelling to Australia, building it on the principles set out in the international standard on third party Environmental Labels and Declarations, ISO 14024. During his stewardship GECA became the Australian member of GEN, developed an effective relationship with the Green Building Council of Australia and produced 52 standards for sustainable performance across the life cycle in around 40 different product categories.
GECA acknowledges the important role that Petar has played in establishing the GECA program and promoting ecolabelling in Australia.