Manufacturer Information on Greener Products
On this page:
- Making a difference
- Consider the full array of impacts
- Aligning with ecolabels and standards
- Making environmental claims
- Other resources
Making a difference for your business, community and health
By designing and making greener products, your business will be joining the ranks of companies who are not only helping improve human health and the environment, but also gaining a crucial competitive edge as consumer demand for greener products increases worldwide.
Consider the full array of impacts
Manufacturers should consider the full array of human health and environmental impacts associated with their products and their supply chain:
Human health and environmental impacts associated with the products and services that they procure and their associated supply chains, which include:
- Exposure to chemicals of concern
- Air pollution
- Water pollution
- Climate change
- Stratospheric ozone depletion
- Natural resource use (e.g., energy, water, materials)
- Waste disposal
- Ecosystem damages
It is important to consider human health and environmental impacts over a product's entire life cycle through:
- Sourcing of raw materials
- Use of the product
- Management of the product when it is no longer needed – through reuse, repair, or safe recycling and/or disposal
Different product categories have different human 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 kitchen and bath fixtures. 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.
Aligning with ecolabels and standards
Aligning with credible third-party ecolabels and standards may help you identify environmental and human health impacts to consider and proven strategies for minimizing those impacts.
Ecolabels and standards can also be an easy way to communicate very complex environmental advantages of your product to consumers.
However, knowing which standard or ecolabel certification is right for your product can be challenging. This site provides an overview of things to consider regarding standards and ecolabels.
Making environmental claims
Making credible environmental claims about products is one way manufacturers are responding to market demand. U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates marketing claims to help ensure consumers are not mislead.
FTC's "Green Guides" provide general guidance for making environmental claims about your product or service.
- Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Manufacturers may be interested in EPA's E3 website.
- Businesses interested in social responsibility may want to check out Business for Social Responsibility's website.
- Electronic equipment manufacturers might be interested in EPEAT, a program that provides verification that your products meet robust standards for environmental performance.
- Manufacturers interested in learning more about reducing the impact associated with transporting their products, please visit the SmartWay Transport Partnership.