ICS Magazine

ISSA, Ecoform to Develop Next Generation of Environmental Labels

November 4, 2009

Lincolnwood, IL, USA, October 26, 2009-ISSA and Ecoform have come together to develop an information-based environmental label (IBEL) designed specifically for the commercial cleaning industry. “IBEL is an ambitious effort to create the next generation of environmental labels that will complement existing eco-label programs while providing a uniform platform for companies to articulate the environmental attributes for the hundreds of product categories for which eco-label programs do not exist,” said Jack Geibig, Ecoform president.

According to ISSA Legislative Affairs Director Bill Balek, “IBEL will directly benefit purchasers, distributors, and manufacturers by communicating, in a format similar to the food-nutrition label, critical health and environmental information associated with cleaning products. Moreover, IBEL will encourage and reward continuous improvement by innovative manufacturers that produce leadership products.”

Existing eco-label programs have done a wonderful job of encouraging the cleaning industry to transition to products with a preferred environmental and safety-and-health profile. However, current product-certification programs have demonstrated inherent limitations, including, but not limited to, the following: Existing standards cover only a limited set of products, leaving hundreds if not thousands of “orphan” products with no options for certification or third-party verification
  • Current eco-label programs employ simple pass/fail criteria that do not reward companies for continuous product innovation and further reductions in health and environmental impact
  • Many small and medium-sized companies are unable to fully participate in eco-label programs because of the high cost of certification. IBEL is being developed by Ecoform in collaboration with ISSA. Geibig is leading the development process in cooperation with a Core Development Committee that is composed of key stakeholders, including health and environmental advocates, unions, state and federal government representatives, eco-label organizations, large and small cleaning-product manufacturers, contract cleaners, and institutional purchasers. For a complete list of the members of the Core Development Committee, visit www.issa.com//data/File/regulatory/IBEL%20Fact%20Sheet-FINAL.pdf.

    While IBEL is under development, characteristics of this new labeling system will include the following:
    • Expands and standardizes the set of health and environmental metrics for product reporting
    • Information-based format compliments existing eco-labels and criteria
    • Quantitative reporting system rewards continued product innovation, reducing potential health and environmental impacts
    • Flexible system expands access to third-party verification to products not currently covered under existing labels, such as tools, equipment, and niche chemical products
    • Multiple product verification tiers, up to and including full product verification by third-party verifiers
    • IBEL product registry provides unprecedented access to select product data in a searchable, transparent system
    • Affordable tiered fee structure expands access to small and medium-sized manufacturers
    • Reduced fees for products with existing eco-label certification from recognized programs.