Etienne Boonet was involved in the establishment of GS1 in 1973. In 1977, he became the first Secretary General of EAN (European Article Number) International (later renamed GS1). He held that position until 1990. Until 2010, he was a member of the GS1 Advisory Council. He represented GS1 in several working groups of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO).
He was also CEO of GS1 Belgium-Luxembourg - a position that remained until his retirement in 2010.