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Helping Customers Go Green

What you need to know about green certification systems

by Richard Marriott, North America Sustainability Leader, Kimberly-Clark Professional

Reducing environmental impact is essential to a sustainable future.  As your customers consider product choices that meet their facilities’ environmental needs, it’s important to take into account not just what a product is made with, but how it is made as well. Creating products with 100 percent recycled fiber is one approach to environmental sustainability, but it does not take into account 100 percent of the picture.  

Manufacturers that take a holistic approach – examining a product’s entire lifecycle, from source to disposal – offer a balanced approach to the environment that is aimed at continually reducing the use of natural resources.  

That means designing products so users consume less, either through improved performance, more reliable dispensing methods, or both. It also includes using sustainably sourced fiber, less packaging and manufacturing technologies that reduce the amount of raw material used. Superior product performance allows people to use less and waste less.

Green Certifications
There are a wide variety of products that can help your customers minimize their impact on the environment, as well as reduce costs. Following is an overview of key green certification systems used for tissue and towel products.

Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification:
FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. It was created in 1993 in response to concerns over global deforestation.

FSC chain of custody (CoC) tracks FSC-certified material through the production process – from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution. Only FSC CoC-certified operations are allowed to label products with the FSC trademarks. The FSC label provides the link between responsible production and consumption and enables consumers to make socially and environmentally responsible purchasing decisions.

FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that supports responsible forest management worldwide. FSC-certified forest products are verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain. The FSC label ensures that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources. FSC is also supported by such major environmental groups as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation.
For more information, visit  

EcoLogo is North American’s largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark. EcoLogo provides customers – public, corporate and consumer – with assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership.

The EcoLogo mark provides third-party, independent assurance that products meet stringent environmental standards. Many EcoLogo-certified products contain a balance of virgin and recycled fibers, resulting in improved quality and performance. This means less paper waste and less cost for your business.    

The EcoLogo Program is a Type I eco-label, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This means that the program compares products and services with others in the same category, develops rigorous and scientifically relevant criteria that reflect the entire lifecycle of the product, and awards the EcoLogo to those that are verified by an independent third party as complying with the criteria.
For more information, visit
Green Seal:
Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization that develops lifecycle-based sustainability standards and offers third-party certification for those that meet the requirements in the standard. Green Seal has been actively identifying and promoting sustainability in the marketplace, and helping companies become greener since 1989.

Green Seal certification ensures that a product meets rigorous, science-based leadership standards, giving manufacturers the assurance to back up their claims and purchasers the confidence that certified products are better for human health and the environment.

Green Seal operates under the international guidelines for environmental labeling programs, ISO 14020 and 14024, set by the International Organization for Standardization. Green Seal is also a founding member of the Global Ecolabeling Network, which has criteria for membership. Green Seal standards have been recognized and used by the United States Federal Government, many state governments, and other important entities.  
For more information, visit

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Environmentally Chain of Custody Certification:
Even if you’re not employed by the federal government, you may want to look for guidance from the EPA and its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program. The program’s Web site offers information about popular environmentally preferable products and services, including environmental attributes to look for, procurement guidance, tools, case studies and other useful resources. Numerous guides are available on a range of topics, such as Sorting Out Green Advertising Claims, Integrating Green Purchasing into Your Environmental Management System and Buying Green Online.

The site also offers a database of environmental information for products and services and a tool to facilitate the purchase of products and services with reduced environmental impact.
For more information, visit

Keep these green labeling options in mind when deciding on which products to recommend to your customers for their business or facility. And, remember that the steps you take today will help make the world more sustainable for future generations.  

Richard MarriottRichard Marriott is the North American Sustainability Leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional. For more information, visit

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2012, Direct Business Media.


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