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You are here: EPA Home » DfE » Invitation to Partner and Worksheet to Evaluate Alternative Ingredients: A Note to Cleaning Chemical Formulators

Invitation to Partner and Worksheet to Evaluate Alternative Ingredients: A Note to Cleaning Chemical Formulators

Invitation to Partner

Understanding the Environmental Profile of Your Formula

The Profiling Process

Partnership Benefits

A Word About Selecting Raw Materials

For More Information

A Note to Cleaning Chemical Formulators

Thank you for your interest in the Design for the Environment (DfE) Program's Formulator Initiative. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's DfE Program is a voluntary, partnership-based initiative that works directly with companies to integrate health and environmental considerations into business decisions.


Invitation to Partner

The DfE Program invites cleaning chemical formulators to partner in the design of safer products. Our goal is to assist formulators in developing products with a more positive environmental profile. For DfE, products with a more positive environmental profile are those whose ingredients, when compared to conventional formulations, are less toxic, less persistent (i.e., they biodegrade faster), and less bioaccumulative (i.e., they do not tend to build up in living tissue—human or animal), and whose ingredient byproducts have similar beneficial characteristics. We focus on advancing pollution prevention and limiting potential risk. The DfE motto: "If it's not in your product, then you don't have to worry about it!"

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Understanding the Environmental Profile of Your Formula

The first step in improving a product's environmental profile is to understand the characteristics of your current formulation. Knowing the environmental and human health attributes of your product's ingredients allows you to compare the profile of potential substitute ingredients and decide whether a switch might have a net health or environmental benefit. To help with this process, DfE offers the scientific and technical expertise of its formulator initiative team. EPA's scientists have reviewed and assessed thousands of chemicals and developed systems to predict chemical characteristics and toxicity in the absence of data. The formulator team can provide you with information on what is known and not known about the potential environmental and health effects of raw materials and additives.

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The Profiling Process

To begin developing an environmental and human health profile of the ingredients you use, please complete the Formulator Ingredient Worksheet [PDF] (83KB). With it, DfE will prepare a preliminary assessment profile of your ingredients as a baseline for considering safer alternatives. We typically invite a potential partner to meet the DfE technical assessment team and discuss our findings. This meeting is also an opportunity to review the elements of partnership and begin crafting a memo of understanding. DfE will consider all information you provide to us proprietary and will handle it in a strictly confidential manner.

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Partnership Benefits

In addition to technical consultations with the EPA, a partner receives public recognition for formulation innovations and improvements that help protect health and the environment. DfE also helps extend recognition to partner customers, without whom the benefits of reformulation cannot be realized.

A Word About Selecting Raw Materials

Building a cleaning formulation with a more positive environmental profile may require extra care and scrutiny, especially when selecting raw materials. Structural and other differences in chemicals of the same general class and chemical make-up may not be apparent from product literature or labels. In fact, even a Chemical Abstracts Service number may not tell the whole story about a chemical. For example, a single CAS number may reference a surfactant that has either a branched or linear carbon chain structure. A key distinction from an environmental standpoint since linear chains biodegrade more rapidly than branched. Formulators should be attentive in selecting ingredients and get confirmation from their suppliers if they have any doubts as to the precise structure, composition, or properties of the chemicals that they plan to use.

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For More Information on the DfE Program and the Formulator Initiative

Contact David DiFiore at 202-564-8796; e-mail: difiore.david@epa.gov or Mary Cushmac at 202-564-8803; e-mail cushmac.mary@epa.gov.

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