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Greener Products

Basic Information

Why this website?

The EPA Greener Products Portal is designed to help the user navigate the increasingly important and complex world of greener products. It allows users to search for EPA programs related to greener products based on the type of user and their specific product interests. It also links to additional greener products information from EPA and other sources.

Make a Difference

By looking for greener products when you shop and using products in ways that respect the environment, you will be joining millions of Americans in helping protect public health and the environment. Using products in ways that respect the environment includes conserving energy, water, and materials as well as disposing of the products responsibly through recycling and reuse.

Products can have a wide variety of public health and environmental impacts including toxic exposures, air pollution, water pollution, climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, natural resource use (e.g., energy, water, materials), waste disposal, and ecosystem damages. These impacts can occur at just one or at many places throughout the product's life cycle: e.g., extracting raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, retailing, and product use, repair or maintenance, and disposal.

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What makes a product "greener"?

The answer to what makes a product "green" can be complicated.

Generally, a product may be considered "greener" if scientific evidence demonstrates that human health or environmental impacts have been significantly reduced in comparison with other products that serve the same purpose.

But it is important to consider the product's life cycle — from product raw material extraction to manufacture and through use and disposal — and its potential for adverse impacts, such as toxic exposures, air pollution, water pollution, climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, natural resource use (e.g., energy, water, materials), waste disposal, and ecosystem damages.

For example, office carpeting that has been "greened" may use safer raw materials in the manufacturing stage and have a modular design that allows for easy disassembly and recycling once the usefulness is complete.

Different product categories have different human health or environmental "hotspots" of concern. For example formulated products, such as chemicals used in cleaning products, have high potential for direct human and environmental exposures, so toxicity would be a "hotspot" of concern.

EPA works with manufacturers, environmental organizations, consumer groups and our federal and state partners to support the development of standards and criteria for greener products using EPA's scientific expertise.

We also have eco-label programs — like Design for the Environment, Energy Star, and WaterSense — to help consumers identify safer, more energy efficient, or more water efficient products.

The table below contains common environmental impact categories used in the life-cycle assessment of products.

Taken from Life-cycle assessment: Principles and Practice , May 2006.
Impact Category Scale Examples of Data
Global Warming/Climate change Global Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Methane (CH4)
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
Methyl Bromide (CH3Br)
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion Global Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
Halons
Methyl Bromide (CH3Br)
Acidification Regional
Local
Sulfur Oxides (SOx)
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
Hydroflouric Acid (HF)
Ammonia (NH4)
Eutrophication – The process by which a body of water or ecosystem acquires a high concentration of organic matter with potentially damaging consequences Local Phosphate (PO4)
Nitrogen Oxide (NO)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrates
Ammonia (NH4)
Photochemical Smog Local Non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC)
Terrestrial Toxicity Local Toxic chemicals with a reported lethal concentration to rodents
Aquatic Toxicity
Additional information also available
Local Toxic chemicals with a reported lethal concentration to fish
Human Health Global
Regional
Local
Total releases to air, water, and soil
Resource Depletion Global
Regional
Local
Quantity of minerals used
Quantity of fossil fuels used
Land Use Global
Regional
Local
Quantity disposed of in a landfill or other land modifications
Water Use Regional
Local
Water used or consumed

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Environmental Claims

Despite a variety of initiatives intended to prevent misleading claims and increase reliable claims, there is evidence that many claims in the marketplace can be misleading Exit EPA Disclaimer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has primary jurisdiction over the regulation of environmental claims, and this website provides resources to help you be an informed consumer. If you represent a manufacturer or institutional purchaser, you will find resources to help you make credible environmental claims and important investments in "greener" products as a manufacturer or as a product buyer.

Feedback on this Website

EPA committed to develop this website as part of the EPA's Open Government Plan. As this is an early version of the website, we are especially interested in your ideas and feedback for future revisions. Please provide your suggestions for feedback here.

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Why Greener Products?
Administrator Lisa Jackson speaking at the National Press Club on March 8, 2010

As stated by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at the National Press Club on March 8, 2010:

"We need to reclaim leadership in the development of new products that protect our health and our environment...we need to capitalize on the growing green marketplace here and around the world."


"Consumers want to know that their products don't have hidden health and environmental costs. Companies must respond to parents who refuse to buy bottles with BPA in them, or that leach dangerous chemicals into drinking water."


"Recent years have seen a growing grassroots environmentalism that is directly tied to our economy. Informed consumers are demanding more of their products."

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