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You are here: EPA Home » DfE » How to Partner, Get the DfE Label on a Product

How to Partner, Get the DfE Label on a Product

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Steps to Partnership

Steps to Partnership Flowchart

Steps to Partnership flowchart

STEP 1. Become Familiar with the Program.

If you’re a cleaning product manufacturer, read over DfE’s "Standard for Safer Products (SSP) (PDF)" (31pp, 177K) and the Standards for Safer Ingredients to get a sense of program goals, framework, criteria, and to determine if your product may qualify to bear the DfE label. In addition, you may also want to take a look at our guidance for meeting Ingredient Disclosure (PDF) (2pp, 58K) and Packaging (PDF) (2pp, 79K) requirements. For manufacturers of other products, read DfE’s "Discriminating and Protective Approach to Product Review and Recognition (PDF)" (12pp, 160K) which includes the DfE criteria in matrix format.

If you are applying for DfE partnership as part of the DfE for Pesticides Pilot, please contact Melanie Vrabel Adams (adams.melanie@epa.gov or 202-564-1843). You should familiarize yourself with the Steps to Partnership on this page. DfE will apply its Master Criteria (PDF) (15pp, 150K) to active ingredients pending the development of a customized screen and inert ingredients will be reviewed as described in DfE's "Standard for Safer Products (SSP) (PDF)" (31 pp, 177K). To learn more about applying for the Pesticides Pilot program, please visit: "How to Apply for the DfE for Antimicrobial Products Pilot."

STEP 2. Profiling of All Formulation Ingredients.

Applicants for the DfE label must fully disclose all ingredients in the product under consideration to DfE and a qualified third party profiler. The third party profiler compiles all hazard information available on each chemical and includes detailed structure, physical-chemical properties, human health and environmental toxicology, and regulatory/ administrative status. This compilation of data is known as a profile.

Qualified third-party profilers have the expertise and objectivity needed to ensure a quality review, with high confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the profile information. To better understand the qualifications of the third-party profilers, please see this link: Third-party profiler qualifications (PDF) (1 pg, 15K). For more background on third-party profiling, please see this link: Chemical Profiling of All Formulation Ingredients (PDF) (2 pp, 33K).

DfE’s third party profilers are NSF, International and ToxServices, LLC. Please contact them directly for information on how to submit your product information and for price quotes.

  • NSF, International
    Please contact Amy McDade at (734) 827-5660 or greenchemistry@nsf.org
    NSF’s website. Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer
  • ToxService, LLC
    Please contact Erica Harriman at 202-429-8789 or DfE@ToxServices.com
    ToxService’s  website. Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer  

Cleaning product formulators are encouraged to choose ingredients that are listed on CleanGredients® Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer and have met the appropriate DfE Standards for Safer Ingredients. These ingredients have already been reviewed by a third-party profiler and do not add additional costs to third-party review.

STEP 3. Assessing Ingredients and Identifying Safer Alternatives.

Following third-party profiling, DfE:

  • assesses each ingredient in your formulation in the context of its functional class;
  • identifies areas for improvement, safer alternatives, or additional information needs; then
  • communicates with the applicant any recommendations for improvement, formulation changes necessary to qualify for recognition, and the elements of a partnership agreement.

STEP 4. Discussing the DfE Assessment.

After the product manufacturer has satisfied DfE’s requirements for the use of safer ingredients, DfE and the manufacturer sign a partnership agreement. The purpose of the Partnership Agreement is to set forth the basis, terms, and goals of the DfE’s voluntary partnership between the partner and EPA.
The Partnership Agreement includes provisions covering the following:

  • how the partner formulates the qualifying products;
  • their environmental and human health benefits;
  • and how the partner and EPA/DfE will work together to continually improve the health and environmental profile of the qualifying products and educate consumers on the importance of safer products and the role of the DfE Program.

Please see this link for a sample Formulator Partnership Agreement (PDF) (10 pp, 44K)

STEP 5. Entering into Partnership.

DfE and your company decide how to announce the partnership and plan near-term activities. DfE welcomes additional products for review, as well as your ideas on how to improve and strengthen the partnership program. Your company should also carefully review the “DfE Labeling Guide” provided to you at the start of partnership.

Please Note: Submission of data under this program is voluntary.

How to Start a Partnership for a New Category of Products

To open a new sector for a product type that DfE has not previously labeled, DfE asks that you contact us directly at dfe@epa.gov .  Before you write, please review the list of product categories to determine if your product represents a new category or might fit within a current category. The DfE Program reviews and recognizes best-in-class chemical-based formulations and products that meet its stringent criteria.  Because the program's expertise is chemistry, DfE limits its partnership activities to manufacturers of chemical-based products.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved DfE Program collections of information, as defined by the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C 3501 et seq.), under OMB Control No. 2070-0178, valid until 6/30/2013.

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