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Green Seal’s Environmental Standards & Certification. The Role of Standards Setting Processes: Defining "What is Green?" NPPR Webinar March 5, 2009 Mark T. Petruzzi VP of Certification & Strategic Relations About Green Seal, Inc.

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Green Seal’s Environmental Standards & Certification

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Green Seal’s Environmental Standards & Certification

The Role of Standards Setting Processes: Defining "What is Green?"

NPPR Webinar March 5, 2009

Mark T. Petruzzi

VP of Certification & Strategic Relations

About Green Seal, Inc.

  • Celebrating 20th Anniversary - 1989-2009

  • 501(c)(3) non-profit

  • Science-based

  • Environmental mission through exclusive focus on environmentally responsible products and services

  • Product standards and technical reports

  • Green Lodging Program

  • Institutional Greening Program

  • Meets ANSI, EPA, ISO, GEN criteria

Third-party certifiers should meet the applicable guidelines

  • ISO 14020 and 14024

    • Principles of Environmental Labeling

    • Principles and Procedures for Type I Ecolabels

  • Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) membership criteria

  • GEN Internationally Coordinated Ecolabelling System (GENICES, evaluation for conformance with ISO 14024)

  • ANSI-accredited standards developer

  • EPA Guidelines for Third-Party Certifiers

  • Consumers Union criteria for “What makes a good eco-label?”

The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN)founded 1994, currently 26 member programs

Voluntary participation

Run by organizations without conflicts of interest

Standards process that involves stakeholders & the public

Criteria, assumptions, methods & data used are open & transparent (i.e., publicly available, easily accessed & understandable)

Legally protected mark

Criteria based on product/service lifecycle

Open access to licensees of all sizes, all countries

Authority to inspect manufacturing facility or service location

Criteria that encourage products & services that are significantly less damaging to the environment (i.e., leadership, usually top 15-25% in category)

Periodic review of criteria, considering technology & marketplace

Commonalities Among Guidelines

Principles of Green Seal’s Environmental Leadership Standards

  • Objective

  • Explicit

  • Science-based

  • Transparent

  • Life-cycle environmental & health considerations

  • Include functional performance

  • Balanced stakeholder input

  • Attainable for leadership products or services

  • Economically feasible

Multi-Attribute, Life-Cycle Approach

  • Raw materials extraction & processing

  • Manufacturing

  • Functional Performance

  • Packaging

  • Transportation

  • Use & Maintenance

  • End-of-life (disposal, recycling, reuse)

How Green Seal SetsEnvironmental Standards

  • Register stakeholders (including end users, manufacturers, trade groups, scientists, government, environmentalists, NGOs, others)

  • Study category

  • Environmental Evaluation

  • Draft standard

  • Public review

  • Response-to-Comments

  • Stakeholder ballot*

  • Publish standard

    * where appropriate

Example Green Seal Criteria

  • Product Performance: To ensure products perform like “conventional” products in the category and meet the expectation of users

  • Environmental and Health Requirements:

    • Acute toxicity limits; skin and eye irritation; skin sensitization and absorption limits; prohibited toxins (ex. carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, asthmagens); volatile organic compound limits; inhalation toxicity limits; bioaccumulation and eutrophication limits; aquatic toxicity limits; biodegradability; minimum concentration levels

  • Packaging Requirements:

    • Packaging resource reduction; packaging type requirements; prohibited toxins (ex. heavy metals, phthalates, chlorinated materials)

  • Training and Labeling Requirements: To ensure the purchaser has access to accurate information to help them decide on products (e.g., presence/absence of an added fragrance) and use the products correctly (instructions for dilution, use, multi-lingual, use of graphic icons)

ISO versus ANSI(not a sci-fi movie or pay-per-view boxing)

No substantive difference in Green Seal’s standard-setting procedures with one exception -

  • ANSI procedures require consensus

  • ISO 14024 requires that “Reasonable efforts should be made to achieve a consensus throughout the process.”

    Why? Recognition that consensus is a reasonable expectation for certain types of standards (e.g., test methodologies, management/process standards, rating systems), whereas leadership environmental standards (e.g., life-cycle standards that a majority of products cannot meet) may find it difficult to achieve without “weakening” the standard.

Green Seal Certification

  • Rigorous science-based evaluation using explicit criteria

  • Products & services evaluated w/o bias or conflict of interest

  • On-site inspections of product manufacturing facilities or service locations (e.g., hotels, restaurants)

  • Includes review of ancillary materials (e.g., literature, labels, catalogs, website) for GS, FTC, unsubstantiated env. claims

  • Evaluation fees are fixed/flat, so Green Seal has no direct financial ties to certified products and services

  • Certified products and services must participate in ongoing compliance monitoring to remain certified

Green Seal “cleaning” standards

  • GS-34 Cleaning/Degreasing Agents

  • GS-37 I&I Cleaners

  • GS-40 I&I Floor-Care Products

  • GS-41 I&I Hand Cleaners* (CCD-104)

  • GS-42 I&I Cleaning Services

  • GS-45 Plastic Resin Film Bags**

  • GS-48 Laundry Care Products**

  • GS-49 Residential Cleaning Services**

  • GS-1 Tissue Paper***

  • GS-9 Paper Towels***

    * joint EcoLogo standard

    ** under development, see

    *** under revision, see

Why Use Environmental Standards in Purchasing?

  • Type I (“seal of approval”) environmental labels used worldwide for 30+ years

  • Principles and procedures for environmental standard-setting and third-party certification are well-established in international and domestic guidelines (with great agreement)

  • Credible environmental standards and third-party certification can greatly reduce the effort needed for identifying, selecting and purchasing environmentally responsible products and services

  • Recognized standards define “green” for purchasers & manufacturers in the context of current marketplace; help to aggregate demand

  • Avoid debate over single attributes (biobased OR low VOCs – neither addresses performance)

  • Use of credible environmental standards can provide insulation from complaints

Contact Information

Green Seal, Inc.

1001 Connecticut Ave, NW

Suite 827

Washington, D.C., 20036

Tel: (202) 872-6400


Thank You!

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