Country: North America(U.S.A)

Green Seal Inc.

Green Seal

Home page: http://www.greenseal.org/



Green Seal's mission is to encourage and assist individuals and corporations in protecting the environment by identifying those products that are less harmful to the planet than other similar products. When enough people choose products bearing the Green Seal, manufacturers will increasingly alter their product lines to meet this consumer demand for environmentally preferable products.

Process for Selecting Product Categories:

A number of factors are considered in selecting product categories: the significance of environmental impact; the opportunity for reduction in environmental impact, including product differentation in the market; public interest and input, including that of institutional purchasers (e.g., Green Seal Environmental Partners); manufacturer interest; availability of funding; promotional opportunity. For its environmental standards on major product categories, Green Seal makes plans one to three years in advance regarding the specific categories to be addressed. This planning process occurs as part of Green Seals annual operating and budget planning and frequently in conjunction with development of major funding proposals to foundations. For its 'environmental criteria', which typically are used for product categories of more limited scope, Green Seal works with interested industries that have products with promising environmental characteristics. The'criteria' categories are selected on a more ad hoc basis depending on manufacturer interest as well as environmental benefit.

Process for Selecting Product Criteria:

Green Seal sets criteria for products based on the best available scientific data and market information, expert consultation, and stakeholder input. All interested parties are consulted and involved in criteria-setting. For major product standards, an advisory group of stakeholders is formed at the very beginning, and a meeting of the group is held to identify data sources, potential environmental impacts, and issues. Green Seal staff, often inconsultation with outside experts in a particular product category (for example, the University of Tennessees Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies), gather and analyze the relevant data and develop an environmental impact evaluation, which identyfies the areas of greatest environmental impact in a products life cycle. Based on this analysis and other pertinent information, such as market data, available technologies, and other standards, Green Seal staff develop proposed product criteria, which are formally issued and distributed to interested parties for review and comment over a 45 to 60 day period. Comments on the proposed standard are then analyzed and further research and consultation are conducted. A revised, final standard along with responses to all comments is sent to the Environmental Standards Committee of Green Seals Board of Directors for approval. Upon issuance, the standard becomes effective for certification. Generally, standards are evaluated at least every three years for possible revision based on new information, technological innovation, market changes, etc. The process for setting 'environmental criteria', which typically cover more limited product categories, is similar but more streamlined. For example, instead of holding stakeholders meetings, staff consult with a number of parties representing the range of interests. Public review by these parties also takes place over a shorter period of time.

Process for Certifying Products:

Manufacturers with products in categories with existing standards or 'criteria' apply to Green Seal to have their products evaluated and, if the relevant criteria are met, awarded certification. The manufacturer signs a contract with Green Seal covering the evaluation and certification. For each Green Seal standard or 'environmental criteria' a checklist is developed of all relevant data needs and criteria to be used in evaluating a product. The checklist includes not only the criteria themselves but also factors in the production system relevant to ensuring quality control. A visit is typically made to the production facility/ies to inspect the process and take measurements on characteristics (such as recycled content) that cannot be determined from the product itself. Depending on the particular product and criteria, product samples may be sent to laboratories for testing and analysis. Green Seal uses established laboratories for its testing, and in many evaluations it has retained Underwriters Laboratories, the worlds foremost private testing and certification organization, as the primary contractor. Manufacturers own data may be used if derived from an acceptable laboratory.

Products meeting all criteria and quality control specifications may use the Green Seal logo with accompanying text describing the basis for certification. The product manufacturer agrees in its contract with Green Seal to abide by Green Seals policies for use of the seal. If a product fails to meet the standard, Green Seal explains the source of non-conformity and gives the manufacturer an opportunity to bring the product up to the standard. A fee is charged to the manufacturer to cover the cost of evaluation. The fee varies depending on the type of product, number of manufacturing facilities, etc.

Work Program:

Environmental Standards and Criteria in Progress:

  • luminaires (light fixtures)
  • residential central air conditioning systems
  • room air conditioners
  • fleet vehicle maintenance
  • remanufactured toner cartridges

Environmental Standards and Criteria to be developed:

  • laundry detergents
  • various forest products
  • office machines (e.g. computers, fax machines)
  • home heating equipment (e.g., heat pumps, furnaces, boilers)

Other Program elements:

Guidence in Purchasing - Environmental Partners Program

In the Environmental Partners Program, outside institutions pledge to purchase products which have less impact on the environment: in turn, these institutions receive guidence from Green Seal in identifying environmentally preferable products. There are currently over a hundred Environmental Partners, including such large companies as Warner Brothers and Montgomery Ward.

Consulting Services for Procurement

Green Seal expects to be working soon with various departments of the US Federal government to assist them in procuring environmentally preferable products and services.

Consulting Services for Product Design

Green Seal has been working with a major manufacturer of household products to improve the environmental aspects of its products and to help design a line of environmentally preferable products.