In the United States and in Canada, the International Organization for Standardization has issued guidelines for properly identifying environmental claims. As the popularity of the green movement has spread, so have claims by manufacturers attempting to connect with the movement. Unfortunately, many of these products do not live up to their billing.
ISO 14024 identifies products that have undergone stringent testing procedures to validate their green and sustainable claims. Products complying with ISO 14024 are tested once a year and the manufacturing facilities undergo random on-site testing to assure green integrity.
The two most recognized independent third-party product certification programs are EcoLogo and Green Seal. These testing programs have developed high standards for environmental leadership. Their tests are conducted in an open, transparent process that takes into account many environmental factors impacted throughout the product’s life. Products bearing the EcoLogo or Green Seal certification have met the following criteria:
- Compliance with public standards for environmental leadership
- Third-party verification that products have met the standards
- Have undergone random observation ensuring ongoing compliance
- Have agreed to be listed for the public benefit
- Have agreed to list and comply with product specifications
While many products comply with single environmental claims, such as acceptability as recycled content, those products should not be considered certified green products. Green Seal and EcoLogo certified products have withstood multi-dimensional testing and contain environmental benefits throughout every phase of the product’s life.
Manufacturers who misrepresent the environmental abilities of their products are qualify as part of the new phenomenon called “Greenwashing.” The most common reason for false claims is the manufacturers unwillingness to submit their products to the stringent third-party testing. This form of testing is absolutely necessary and long overdue. If the green movement is to succeed, the public must be aware of the environmental effects of every product. Go green and check the labels!