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Merchandising: Products/Packaging
Sustainability Resources

EPA has extensive programs and information to help you supply products that are more energy efficient, made with fewer toxic components, optimize material use and are, where possible, recyclable.

EPA helps retailers discern which product standards and labels they should seek when procuring goods and services to sell to their commercial and individual customers. Currently, EPA develops its own standards and labels for certain products, such as the Energy Star, WaterSense, Design for Environment labels. In other cases, EPA participates in the development of consensus-based standards, that are accredited by the American National Standards Institute.

Greening Suppliers

Retailers are beginning to look to their supply chains to make environmental improvements, as whole product lifecycle considerations are generating more attention.

  • Green Suppliers Network: A collaborative venture among industry, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), a leading provider of technical assistance to manufacturers. Green Suppliers Network works with large manufacturers to engage their small and medium-sized suppliers in low-cost technical reviews that focus on process improvement and waste minimization. EPA provides program support and funding.
  • The Toxic Releases Query Form allows you to retrieve data from the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database in Envirofacts. Your query returns facility information and chemical reports, which tabulate air emissions, surface water discharges, releases to land, underground injections, and transfers to off-site locations. Use this information to identify green suppliers.
  • EPA Partnership Programs: Businesses have a wide variety of opportunities to practice environmental stewardship. Review the partner companies under the various US partnership programs to find suppliers committed to environmental stewardship.

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Packaging of products:

Retailers have the ability to reduce the environmental impacts of their packaging by:

  1. Evaluating the need for the package
  2. Using less material (aka. source reduction). Designing a package so that a minimum amount of material fulfills the functional requirements offers cascading environmental benefits. By reducing the quantity of raw materials used in the packaging, you can minimize its environmental and economic footprint.
  3. Increasing the recycled content of the packaging materials.
  4. Eliminating toxic constituents. Ensure that all the additives, adhesives, coatings, and inks that get added to the package are safe for human health and the environment.
  5. Use packaging materials that can be recycled or composted once it has served its original purpose. Design your package so all components can be easily taken apart and recovered.
  6. Support materials recovery and recycling. Educate your consumers on what they can do with your package once they no longer need it.

Learn more about innovative approaches companies have taken to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging:

The Sustainable Packaging CoalitionExit EPA Disclaimer , supported by EPA, also provides information and guidance on reducing environmental impacts of packaging.

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Resources to help you purchase more environmentally friendly products

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Selling/Buying Green Products

  • 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.

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Transporting your products

  • Smartway Transport: an innovative collaboration between EPA and the freight sector designed to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, and improve energy security

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