FM Alert: Cradle To Cradle Certified Product Standard Recognized By EPA

The recommendation is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly released guidelines federal purchasers should use when buying greener products.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its new recommendations of standards and ecolabels for federal sustainable purchasing.

EPA product standardCradle to Cradle Certified is recommended at the highest level across seven building materials and construction product categories, including adhesives, carpet, ceiling tiles (acoustical), fiberboard and wallboard, flooring, insulation and interior latex paint. Cradle to Cradle Certified is also recommended at the highest level for furniture.

“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 Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute President Lewis Perkins.

“70% of Cradle to Cradle Certified products fall under the built environment and furnishings categories,” he continued. “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.”

Approximately 350 building materials, construction, and furnishings products from 159 manufacturers have achieved Cradle to Cradle product certification to date. Click here to see the full list.

The recommendation comes as part of the EPA’s newly released guidelines for identifying which private sector standards and ecolabels federal purchasers should use when buying greener products. The guidelines are intended to establish a cross-sector framework for use in recognizing non-governmental multi-attribute environmental standards and ecolabels, and consequently environmentally preferable products meeting those standards for use in federal procurement.

The guidelines recognize environmental performance that is better than standard industry practice and provide a framework that filters out standards or ecolabels that are not appropriate for federal procurement, do not support environmentally preferable purchasing, or do not address the key environmental or health impacts of a particular product category.

“The federal government’s ability to sort through the myriad numbers of products with private eco labels can provide a critical roadmap for how the public sector can do this,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, U.S. EPA. “By allowing federal buyers to make more informed decisions on environmentally preferable products and services, federal agencies are leading by example, stimulating the supply of greener products and services, and protecting our health and the environment.”

The EPA recommendations give preference to multi-attribute (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. In addition, for the highest tier of preference, the EPA must also have been able to confirm the availability of a competent certification body that is either a signatory to the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (IAF MLA), or otherwise meets Section III of the EPA’s guidelines.

Cradle to Cradle product design methodology focuses upon the development of products using safe, healthy materials that can be remain in a perpetual cycle of use and reuse across multiple product life cycles.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard offers third-party verification for products developed in accordance with Cradle to Cradle product design principles. Cradle to Cradle Certified products are assessed for potential human and environmental impacts across five key sustainability characteristics: material health, material reuse, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social fairness. Certification is based upon compliance with the standard and awarded at the Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum levels. Certification must be renewed every two years by the product’s manufacturer.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard itself, along with the verification process, are also subject to continuous improvement through a regular standards review and public comment periods, according to Institute Vice President of Science and Certification Dr. Susan Klosterhaus.

“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,” said Klosterhaus. “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,” she added. “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 now rely upon as a framework for ensuring the sustainability of the products they create.”

The guidelines were developed via a stakeholder consensus process and pilot program from March 2015 to December 2016 in which the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute participated. In addition to an EPA funded independent assessment of standards and ecolabels per the guidelines, the recommendations are also based upon analysis and use by other federal agencies, and include standards and ecolabels from the Department of Energy (DOE) FY 2016 Priority Products List and the General Services Administration (GSA) Key Sustainable Products list.