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This past January, Green Seal, a nonprofit certification organization founded in 1989, announced the publication of GS-51: Laundry Care Products for Industrial and Institutional Use.
Designed to address the life cycle impacts of laundry care products used in institutional and industrial settings, GS-51 specifies performance, environmental, and health requirements such as concentration, reduced toxicity, biodegradability, and reduced and recyclable packaging.
The standard covers more than 20 product categories for conventional laundry and dry cleaning, including detergents, prewash products, spot removers, laundry additives, and fabric care products. Linda Chipperfield, vice president of marketing and communications for Green Seal, says GS-51 represents a comprehensive benchmark for sustainable laundry care. “It also provides manufacturers [with] the opportunity to be recognized as leaders in the industry,” she notes, “and allows purchasers to identify safer, environmentally preferable laundry products.”
To provide users with an overview of the standard, Green Seal released “Top Ten Facts” about GS-51:
- Covers a wide variety of laundry care products
- Includes performance requirements to ensure that products meet consumer expectations
- Requires that detergents and softeners be concentrated to reduce packaging and transport needs and to minimize greenhouse gas emissions
- Prohibits ingredients that are known carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, and other health hazards
- Lessens the risk that product users will inhale volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and asthmagens
- Helps protect product users from damage to skin or eyes
- Requires that products be nontoxic to human and aquatic life and contain biodegradable ingredients
- Requires that product packaging be reduced and made from recyclable materials with post-consumer content; or be refillable/returnable
- Mandates ingredient disclosure, including fragrance components, to promote transparency
- Requires that producers provide product users with training instruction regarding proper dilution and dosing
“GS-51 also includes manufacturing sustainability requirements,” adds Chipperfield. “These include reporting on energy and water use; tracking emissions and solid waste; and documenting that production is socially responsible. These are key to reducing energy consumption, promoting sustainability, and minimizing the impact these products have on people and the environment.”