Red, White & Green Cleaning
By Katherine Frisch
From the recent “Green the Capitol” report by Daniel P. Beard, Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. House of Representatives, to the growing number of state and local intiatives, government and educational entities are reducing environmental impacts associated with daily operations. As many entities formulate long-term strategies, one easily-implemented, cost-effective remedy is green cleaning products and processes.
“In some ways, government agencies have carried the torch for green cleaning,” says Michael Keating, Research Manager, Government Procurement. “Federal agencies continue to take up the green torch with at least five agencies referencing Green Seal-certified products.”
Government and educational entities are expected to buy even more industrial and institutional cleaning chemicals in the years ahead. As entities embark or expand green cleaning initiatives, procurement professionals must sort through vague claims that are a result of creative marketing. It is important to become familiar with frequently-sited, well-respected environmental standards, and include these standards as criteria in requests for proposal (RFPs).
“Cleveland-based Freedonia Group predicts in its latest Institutional and Industrial (I&I) Cleaning Chemical Market Report that government purchases will grow from $165 million in 2005 to $223 million in 2010, and onto $291 million in 2015, a 6.2 percent annual growth rate,” says Keating.
Scot Case’s June article, “Beware of Greenwashing: Not All Environmental Claims are Meaningful,” explores the resurgence of greenwashing and the need for procurement professionals to recognize the practice of inflating a company’s or its product’s environmental benefits.
While there are those making shady claims, more and more manufacturers of cleaning products are joining the U.S. Environmental Protective Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program. For the program’s online database of institutional and industrial cleaning product ingredients, visit www.cleangredients.org. The site provides manufacturers and procurement professionals with verified information about the environmental and human health attributes of listed ingredients. The program supports the formulation of products with human and environmental health benefits, whether to meet corporate internal objectives, regulations, voluntary product recognition programs, or national and international eco-labels.
As one of EPA’s premier partnerships, DfE is working with individual industries to compare and improve the performance and reduce human health and environmental risks and costs of existing and alternative products, processes, and practices. The number of CleanGredients users continues to climb with 10 suppliers and 88 formulators subscribed to the program. While the database currently lists only surfacants for hard surfaces, carpet cleaning, laundry, and hand dish soap, DfE is working to add solvents, fragrances, and colorants to the list.
The number of online resources for procurement professionals continues to grow, and many vendors and distributors will provide samples of supplies for testing. With criteria and specifications at one’s fingertips, entities can disregard cleaning products with misleading claims. Robust standards and effective, cost-efficient products are out there waiting to be discovered.