Your Guide to Green Product Certifications

There are a lot of green cleaning product certifications to choose from out there. What’s the difference between Green Seal, USDA Bio-Preferred or EcoLogo certified products?  And how do you know which one is best for your facility cleaning? These questions can be overwhelming and confusing. Let’s clear it up.

There are several different types of green certifications, and most of those certifications have varying categories. They have key things in common, though: They are all third-party, non-profit organizations whose mission is to aid buyers and purchasers in finding greener, safer products for their facilities.

Green Certifications Graphic

Green Seal

  • Frequently found in green cleaning mandates for schools and government facilities.
  • Certifies: Green Seal certifies a vast array of items, services and businesses. Anything from a coffee filter to a restaurant can be Green Seal Certified.
  • Cleaning Product Standard: GS-37.
  • Key Requirements:
    • Product performance testing — Products must perform as well as or better than similar nationally-recognized products.
    • Limited oral/dermal toxicity
    • Minimal VOCs
    • No carcinogens
    • Reduced carbon footprint through chemical concentration

Source: greenseal.org

EcoLogo

  • Frequently found in green cleaning mandates for schools and government facilities.
  • Certifies: Building materials, cleaning products, office products and electronics. EcoLogo is a certification program within UL, which itself certifies thousands of products, both consumer and commercial.
  • Cleaning Product Standard: UL 2759. (Varying standards for disinfectants, hand care, etc.)
  • Key Requirements:
    • Product performance testing — Products must perform as well as or better than similar nationally-recognized products.
    • Limited oral/dermal toxicity
    • Minimal VOCs
    • No carcinogens
    • Reduced carbon footprint through chemical concentration

Source: industries.ul.com

Design for the Environment/Safer Choice

  • The EPA’s label for safer chemical-based products.
  • Frequently found in federal, state or municipal green purchasing mandates.
  • Certifies: Cleaners, including carpet cleaners, laundry detergents, graffiti removers and personal care products.
  • Key Requirements:
    • Full Ingredient Disclosure
    • On-site audits of manufacturing facilities
    • Product performance testing
    • Meets toxicity standards for environmental and human hazards

USDA Bio-Preferred

  • Includes mandatory federal purchasing as well as voluntary labeling of bio-based products.
  • Certifies: Wide variety of federally-purchased goods, including cleaners, lubricants, stains, and inks.
  • Key Requirements
    • Minimum Biobased Content: Products must contain a certain amount of bio-based ingredients that are plant-derived or derived from renewable resources vs traditional petroleum.

It’s important to note that EPA-registered products, like disinfectants, sanitizers and virucides, aren’t eligible for third-party green certifications. This is an EPA regulation. However, if a product is EPA-registered, the bacterial and viral kill claims, the environmental impact and toxicity have all been verified by third-party sources.

Of course, there’s a lot more to choosing the right green cleaning product than just looking at the certification. It’s a good start, though.

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