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EPA Accepts Standards for Sustainable Products

Friday, May 19, 2017

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The U.S Environmental Protection Agency said it will recognize The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard, which is recommended at the highest level for seven building materials and construction product categories.

© iStock.com / Skyhobo

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency said it will recognize The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard, which is recommended at the highest level for seven building materials and construction product categories.

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute announced the EPA's decision, which falls under standards and ecolabels for federal sustainable purchasing.

Categories covered under the EPA’s recommendation are:

  • Adhesives;
  • Carpet;
  • Acoustical ceiling tiles;
  • Fiberboard and wallboard;
  • Flooring;
  • Insulation, and;
  • Interior latex paint.

Approximately 350 building materials, construction and furnishings products have achieved Cradle to Cradle product certification.

“EPA recognition of Cradle to Cradle Certified as a rigorous multi-attribute, third-party standard for product sustainability is a tremendous vote of confidence in the significance and value of both the Cradle to Cradle product design methodology and the product certification itself,” said Lewis Perkins, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute President. “Seventy percent of Cradle to Cradle Certified products fall under the built environment and furnishings categories.

“We believe the new EPA recommendation of Cradle to Cradle Certified as a preferred standard for greener purchasing within those product categories stands to create additional competitive advantage for those manufacturers should they seek to provide their products to federal agencies.”

Fine-Tuning Guidelines

The EPA’s guidelines identify which private sector standards and ecolabels federal purchasers should use when they buy greener products. The guidelines were drafted to establish a cross-sector framework that acknowledges non-governmental, multi-attribute environmental standards and ecolabels; certain environmentally friendly products meet those standards.

The guidelines stipulate which standards or ecolabels are not suitable for federal procurement; do not support environmentally preferable purchasing; and do not address key environmental or health impacts of a product category.

Cradle to Cradle design methodology is based on the development of products using safe, healthy materials, which are capable of a perpetuating cycle of use and reuse.

Gathering Information

A stakeholder consensus process and pilot program, conducted from March 2015 to December 2016, was used to devise the EPA’s guidelines; the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute participated.

In addition to an EPA-funded independent assessment of standards and ecolabels, the recommendations were crafted by seeking input from other federal agencies. Standards and ecolabels from the Department of Energy FY 2016 Priority Products List and the General Services Administration Key Sustainable Products list were instrumental in the process.

Multi-attribute, or life-cycle based standards and ecolabels with specific regard for standards that address environmental "hotspots"—areas of high-environmental impact—across a product’s life cycle are preferable, per the EPA’s guidelines.

To certify a product, the EPA must be able to confirm the availability of a competent certification body that is either a signatory to the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement, or meets Section III of the EPA’s guidelines.

Products Judged

Cradle to Cradle Certified products are assessed for potential human and environmental impacts across five sustainability characteristics: material health; material reuse; renewable energy; water stewardship; and social fairness. Certification, which is based on compliance with the standard, is awarded at Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels. Certification renewal is required every two years by a product manufacturer.

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is recommended at the highest level for seven building materials and construction product categories.

Dr. Susan Klosterhaus, Vice President of Science and Certification for the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard, said the process is continually being improved by conducting frequent standards reviews and soliciting public input.

 “The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard helps companies bring a level of sharp focus and rigor to the process of designing and making products with the circular economy in mind,” Klosterhaus said. “Both the product standard and the assessment process offer companies a guidance system and a pathway for the continuous improvement of their products and processes.

“The stringent nature of Cradle to Cradle Certified practices aligns well with the EPA’s criteria for standards and ecolabels. The inclusion of Cradle to Cradle Certified on the list of EPA recommendations is a testament to the value of the product standard that a growing number of manufacturers rely upon as a framework for ensuring the sustainability of the products they create.”

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Government; Green chemistry; Green design; Sustainability

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