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New Program Tests Effectiveness Of Green Cleaners

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Environment

Tagged: , , , ,

Published on October 26, 2009 with 1 Comment

To promote cleaning products that are both green and effective, the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) have launched a program to test and validate high performance products. The fee-based program will test soil removal efficacy of hard surface cleaning products—both those certified as green by third party organizations such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, and EcoForm, as well as products with green attributes—and recognize products that perform well in standard and customized cleaning tests.

“While it is accepted that lower toxicity, environmentally preferable, or green cleaning products are better for human health and global ecosystems, the question remains: Do such products clean well when compared to conventional or even other green products?” asks Beth Risinger, CEO and executive director of IEHA.

Products accepted into the program will be tested using a variety of scientific methods and devices producing a detailed analysis of product performance. Manufacturers can use this information to improve their formulations as well as promote their products.

“For institutions and consumers, the value we provide is unbiased performance testing to enable product selection based on objective data rather than on anecdotal information,” says Jason Marshall, laboratory director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. “For vendors, products that are effective cleaners will have a clear scientific basis for associated marketing claims.”

Manufacturers of cleaning products that qualify after testing will be entitled to display the IEHA “High Performance Cleaning Product” designation and logo.

“The logo will mainly serve as a way for purchasers to determine at a glance those products that clean well, but it also may be used by manufacturers for marketing purposes with certain restrictions,” says Risinger. “This is really about performance, not marketing, but products that are validated in this program have a powerful marketing tool at their disposal.”

In response to interest in the IEHA High Performance Cleaning Product (HPCP) Testing program associated with TURI, the following Q&A is provided.

Q: With so many certifications and recognition programs in existence, why does the cleaning industry need another?
A: While there are several green and other certification and recognition programs, there are none that focus solely on performance of hard surface cleaning products. Green Seal, EcoLogo and others have wisely included product efficacy requirements as part of the certification process, but it is our belief that these requirements do not go quite far enough nor do they encourage manufacturers to strive for optimal performance in a wide variety of specific applications.

Q: Is the IEHA High Performance Cleaning Product designation a certification?
A: No—it is merely a recognition program to acknowledge and encourage high-performance products—ideally those certified or recognized by Green Seal, EcoLogo, EcoForm, DfE, and other reputable organizations.

Q: Is the IEHA High Performance Cleaning Product (HPCP) program based on—or designed to produce—a standard?
A: No, the program is designed to encourage continuous improvement, rather than set a rigid standard.

Q: How will the HPCP program foster continuous improvement?
A: Products will be designated as “high performance” only in the specific areas where they perform in a superior manner. For example, a product that is an exceptional glass cleaner will receive a letter code such as “GC” that will accompany the HPCP logo. If it performs well as an all purpose cleaner/light duty, it may receive an “APL” designation. There will also be application specific criteria and recognition codes (e.g., White Board cleaning or “WB”). We believe this will provide manufacturers with incentive to continue to improve products and earn additional designations.

Q: Why does HPCP focus on a single attribute performance?
A: We believe specializing enables developing a high degree of proficiency in the area of specialization—namely product performance.

Q: What test methods are used?
A: Test methods are based on, but not limited to: ASTM G122, ASTM D3556, ASTM D4488 (A5), ASTM D5343, ASTM D4009, ASTM E1593, ASTM D1792, CCD 110, DCC09 &09A, DCC16 I & II, Marble block test, DCC17, DCC05A, DCC10, and DCC12.

Q: Why is this program specific to green products?
A: The UMass TURI lab tests only products that meet its safety and environmental criteria—this means products must be on the “green side” of the safety and environmental continuum.

Q: How will you prevent the HPCP logo being used for greenwashing?
A: The logo will not be permitted to be used in connection with communications or marketing that designate products as Green High Performance Cleaning Products unless the product has also been certified or recognized by Green Seal, EcoLogo, EcoForm, DfE, etc.

Q: Will the program work collaboratively with existing Green Certification groups?
A: Yes, it is our express desire to help industry groups and our colleagues address product performance issues and improvement by raising the bar and sharing our data.

Q: What is the cost of testing?
A: Fees start at $2,500, and overall costs depend on the number of tests, contaminants, and surfaces involved.

Q: How long after testing is complete will a manufacturer be notified whether or not the tested product qualifies for use of the logo?
A: Optimally, within two weeks, a committee will review the data and decide whether or not the product meets criteria to be designated a High Performance Cleaning Product.

Q: Is there an annual licensing fee to use the logo?
A: Not at this time.

Q: How often will products need to be tested or re-tested to continue to qualify to use the High Performance Cleaning Product designation and logo?
A: There is no set time period. Criteria are being established for re-testing triggers (e.g., when products are reformulated or methodologies updated) but these have not been finalized.

Q: If a manufacturer has many products, are volume discounts available?
A: Yes. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

IEHA and TURI are now accepting applications from manufacturers who wish to have their products evaluated.

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at schwartz@groupc.com.

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  1. How does this compare to green seal and ecologo for certification of green commercial cleaning products?

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