June 8/15, 2015; Volume 30/Number 1
By Jenna Lippin
The changing landscape of sustainability has required flooring manufacturers to move beyond Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) to prove to end users their products are safe and don’t pose a threat to a healthy living environment. In an effort to remain fully transparent, these entities are working with sustainability experts in developing labels that disclose product ingredients, recyclability features, sourcing and more. Following is a summary of some of the latest and most popular product labels, many reading like the nutrition facts found on one’s favorite packaged foods in the local grocery store.
Declare labels are the talk of the green community, providing full product transparency, including disclosure of Red List ingredients, which include materials, chemicals and elements known to pose serious risks to human health (carcinogens) and the greater ecosystem. Created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) in conjunction with its Living Building Challenge (LBC), Declare labels include end of life options for a product, a full listing of ingredients (Red List materials stand out in red) and Living Building Challenge criteria, which includes VOC content, VOC emissions and declaration status—LBC Red List Free, LBC Compliant or Declared (see sidebar).
A major sponsor of ILFI is Mohawk Group, which has been utilizing and educating the industry about Declare labels for several years. “There is such a huge thirst to learn about this,” said Rochelle Routman, Mohawk Industries’ director of sustainability. “The Living Building Challenge represents a leap forward in terms of sustainability. It really will help us achieve sustainability more significantly and more rapidly.”
Part of its Green Edge sustainability initiative, Shaw’s Eco Impact label is available for both Shaw Contract and Patcraft products, offering a listing of ingredient materials, recyclability, environmental certifications and environmental impact of products. The label also includes end of life information and third party eco labels for the product, including Cradle to Cradle, CRI Green Label Plus, USGBC LEED and more.
A breakdown of recycled content is listed on Eco Impact labels in addition to materials that make up a product. The listing includes pre-consumer and post-consumer percentages, along with bio-based/rapidly renewable content and packaging recyclability.
GreenCircle validates specific attributes of a product or operation. Companies can apply for single-attribute certification and/or multi-attribute certification, which both use a nutrition label model and includes both product- and manufacturing-specific information.
GreenCircle works in tandem with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Green Guides. To ensure FTC compliance, GreenCircle will conduct a detailed, science-based evaluation of products and manufacturing operations to verify claims and provide product certifications for Certified Energy Savings, Closed Loop Product, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Optimized, Recyclable Material, Recycled Content and Renewable Resource Content. Regupol is one company with multiple GreenCircle certifications, particularly for Recycled Content.
GreenCircle’s Certified Environmental Facts (CEF) Multi-Attribute certification is used to communicate the total measure of sustainability of a product and operations. The CEF certification label includes product attributes and manufacturing impact reductions, giving end users a full view of overall sustainability.
USEtox is a scientific consensus model endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/ Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Life Cycle Initiative for characterizing human and eco-toxicological impacts of chemicals. The USEtox model has been developed by the USEtox team, a group of international researchers from the Task Force on Toxic Impacts under the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. A USEtox label lists a summary of ecotoxicity information, human toxicity information (cancer and non-cancer) and a complete list of ingredients.
One company touting the value of USEtox labels is Forbo, which highlighted the environmental tool at Greenbuild 2014. “A complaint we hear is how there is no way to measure how [products] truly impact your body, but there is with USEtox,” said Lori Lagana, marketing manager. “The HPD provides a list of ingredients describing what’s in a product, and USEtox will break that list down explaining how it affects human health and the environment. EPDs and HPDs are not full transparency. You need to take the information and apply it to the actual products to understand how they impact your health.”