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Greener Products

Manufacturer

Making a Difference for Your Business, Public Health, and the Environment

By designing and making greener products, your business will be joining the ranks of American companies who are not only helping improve public health and the environment, but also gaining a crucial competitive edge as "greener consumption" increases worldwide.

A Life-Cycle Approach

Manufacturers should consider the full array of public health and environmental impacts associated with their products and their supply chain. These include toxic exposures, air pollution, water pollution, climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, natural resource use (e.g., energy, water, materials), waste disposal, and ecosystem damages. To do this, manufacturers must consider the public health and environmental impacts over the entire life cycle of a product: from sourcing of raw materials, to manufacturing, packaging, transportation, distribution, retailing, product use, and end of life management (through reuse, repair, recycling, or safe disposal). Different product categories have different public health or environmental "hotspots" of concern. For example, formulated products, such as those used in cleaning and personal care, have a high potential for direct human and environmental exposures, hence the toxicity of the formulated product is of paramount importance. Alternatively, water usage may be the primary concern for lavatory fittings. In these cases, standards that focus on the hotspots of concern may be most appropriate.

Where possible, manufacturers should assess when their choices might result in burden shifting (resolving one environmental problem only to create others elsewhere). For example, selecting bio-based products reduces fossil fuel inputs, and the emission of greenhouse gases, but the growing and harvesting of biofeedstocks can pollute water sources and degrade soil quality. Applying a life-cycle approach and going beyond single issue concerns will provide insight into the upstream and downstream trade-offs associated with environmental pressures, human health and the use of resources.

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Eco Labels and Standards

Introduction to Eco-Labels and Standards

  • Energy Star EPEAT
  • U.S. EPA Design for the Environment WaterSense
  • Burn Wise Plug-In to eCycling with U.S. EPA
  • Responsible Appliance Disposal Program Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Partnership
  • Conventional Reduced Risk Pesticide Program Pesticides Product Labels
  • Green Chill Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program
  • Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership Sustainable Futures Initiative
  • E3: Economy, Energy and the Environment Automobile and Product Stewardship

Scroll through these EPA programs and several standards that EPA helped develop and manage. Click on the logos for more information, and links to greener products and product comparisons.

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Environmental Claims

Making credible environmental claims about products is also essential. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) website for its current "Green Guides". Note that the "Green Guides" are currently being revised and updated.

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Other EPA Initiatives

Please also see the following EPA websites for additional information about more environmentally sustainable products.

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Non–EPA Resources

The Related Links section of this website includes a wide range of other greener product resources including many not developed by EPA.

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