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Monday, 13 August 2012 09:27

How Green Seal Certification Fights Greenwashing

Written by  charlotte Peyraud

WITH THE RECENT SURGE IN SUPPORT OF ENVIRONMENTALLY sensitive policies, many product manufacturers and service providers are taking stock of their own practices and taking a greener approach to their market. For many, this means seeking third-party certification. One of the most trusted names in third-party ecolabeling is Green Seal, Inc., the only U.S.-based organization that offers an existing body of life-cycle environmental standards.

The value of achieving a Green Seal© certification for a product or service is multi-faceted. More and more companies are recognizing that environmentally responsible design and production are an integral part of their mission and the value they want to deliver to their customers. The Green Seal sends a clear message: we care about improving the health and welfare of people and the planet. As businesses recognize that environmental priorities can be translated into market advantage, they've turned to Green Seal certification to give them a business edge.

As the demand for green products increases so does the phenomenon of “greenwashing.” The term “greenwashing” describes what happens when companies mislead consumers about the environmental benefits of a product or service. This is where the importance of third-party certification comes into play, as the process brings credibility to green claims. By identifying, certifying and promoting environmentally responsible products and services, Green Seal offers a reliable service to manufacturers, purchasers and individuals who want to make a positive impact on the environment and quality of life.

A Green Seal-certified mark on a product or service means that it has gone through a stringent process to show that it has less impact on the environment and human health. Standards are developed using a life-cycle approach, which means products are assessed from the extraction of raw materials through the manufacturing process to the final recycling or disposal of the product. Services are evaluated for the products and equipment they use, their processes and procedures and how these impact the health of people and the environment. The Green Seal means that the product or service has passed the tests; that it works as well or better than others in its class and that it has been evaluated without bias or conflict of interest.

The use of Green Seal-certified products is also very attractive to building owners and managers because their use can translate into LEED points. For example, the use of paints certified GS-11 or adhesives certified under GS-36 can qualify for points under LEED NC and LEED CI. And the use of cleaners certified under GS-37 can qualify for points under LEED EB.

GS-42 is the Environmental Leadership Standard for Institutional Green Cleaning Services. The criteria in the standard include the use of environmentally preferable products and equipment, and specific requirements for maintenance and use of equipment, planning, communication and training. For example, chemicals should be used efficiently to limit waste and exposure and solid waste should be reduced by minimizing packaging, reusing supplies and recycling. A full list of the criteria in the standard is available at www. greenseal.org.

So, how does a company start the certification process? The first step is to fill out a preliminary application which can be found under “Get Your Product/ Service Certified” on the website. A Green Seal staff member will then work with you to ensure that the data submitted demonstrates that your product or service meets the requirements in the standard. Certification also requires an on-site audit. Certified companies are audited annually for compliance. For GS-42, this includes policies, procedures, purchasing records for products used, equipment service logs and staff training logs. Further, in regards to GS-42, on-site audits green accounts are performed to verify that the written policies, procedures, products, etc. are actually being implemented/used in the real world at the accounts receiving the green cleaning service.

Green Seal has developed a wide variety of standards covering products and services, from tissue paper to hotels. A list of these standards can be found under the Standards button at www.greenseal. org. We are continuously developing new standards to match the ever-increasing demand for green products and services and we need your input. If there is a product or service you’d like to have certified, but no standard exists, you can now submit your ideas on the standards inquiry form on the preliminary application. In this era of increased demand for sustainable products and services and the inevitable greenwashing, credible thirdparty certification is the best way to verify your environmental claims. Reassure your customers that what they are buying is truly green. Prove your sustainability with a Green Seal certification.

Charlotte Peyraud is with Green Seal, Inc. and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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