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Paper Products / Sustainability / Standards And Certifications
October 2012 Feature 4

A Breakdown Of The Leading Ecolabels For Paper Products

What you need to know about green certification systems for tissue and towel products.

October 01, 2012
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Reducing environmental impact is essential to a sustainable future.

As you consider product choices that meet your facilities’ environmental needs, it’s important to take into account not just what a product is made with but how it is made as well.

Creating products with 100 percent recycled fiber is one approach to environmental sustainability, but it does not take into account 100 percent of the picture.

Manufacturers who take a holistic approach — examining a product’s entire lifecycle from source to disposal — offer a balanced approach to the environment that is aimed at continually reducing the use of natural resources.

That means designing products so users consume less, either through improved performance, more reliable dispensing methods or both.

It also includes using sustainably sourced fiber, less packaging and manufacturing technologies that reduce the amount of raw material used.

Superior product performance allows people to use less and waste less.

Green Certifications

There are a wide variety of products that can help you minimize your impact on the environment while reducing costs.

What follows is an overview of key green certification systems used for tissue and towel products.

  • Chain of Custody

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification

It was created in 1993 in response to concerns over global deforestation.

FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification tracks FSC-certified material through the production process — from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.

Only FSC CoC-certified operations are allowed to label products with the FSC trademarks, which provide the link between responsible production and consumption and enables consumers to make socially and environmentally responsible purchasing decisions.

FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that supports responsible forest management worldwide.

FSC-certified forest products are verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain.

The FSC label ensures that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources.

FSC is also supported by such major environmental groups as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation.

For more information, visit www.FSC.org.

  • EcoLogo

EcoLogo by UL Environment is North America’s largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark.EcoLogo certification

EcoLogo provides customers — public, corporate and consumer — with assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership.

The EcoLogo mark provides third-party, independent assurance that products meet stringent environmental standards.

Many EcoLogo-certified products contain a balance of virgin and recycled fibers, resulting in improved quality and performance.

This means less paper waste and less cost for your business.

The EcoLogo Program is a Type I ecolabel, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

This means that the program compares products and services with others in the same category, develops rigorous and scientifically relevant criteria that reflect the entire lifecycle of the product and awards the EcoLogo to those that are verified by an independent third-party as complying with the criteria.

For more information, visit www.EcoLogo.org.

  • Green Seal

Green Seal Inc. is an independent non-profit organization that develops lifecycle-based sustainability standards and offers third-party certification for those that meet the requirements in the standard.New Green Seal logo

Green Seal has been actively identifying and promoting sustainability in the marketplace and helping companies become greener since 1989.

Green Seal certification ensures that a product meets rigorous, science-based leadership standards, giving manufacturers the assurance to back up their claims and purchasers the confidence that certified products are better for human health and the environment.

Green Seal operates under ISO’s international guidelines for environmental labeling programs, ISO 14020 and ISO 14024.

Green Seal is also a founding member of the Global Ecolabeling Network, which has criteria for membership.

Green Seal standards have been recognized and used by the federal government, many state governments and other important entities.

For more information, visit www.GreenSeal.org.

  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Even if you’re not employed by the federal government, you may want to look for guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program.EPA EPP certification

The program’s website offers information about popular environmentally preferable products and services, including environmental attributes to look for, procurement guidance, tools, case studies and other useful resources.

Numerous guides are available on a range of topics, such as “Sorting Out Green Advertising Claims,” “Integrating Green Purchasing into Your Environmental Management System” and “Buying Green Online.”

The site also offers a database of environmental information for products and services and a tool to facilitate the purchase of products and services with reduced environmental impact.

For more information, visit www.EPA.gov/epp.

Keep these green labeling options in mind when deciding which products to purchase for your business or facility.

And, remember that the steps you take today will help make the world more sustainable for future generations.

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