The Federal Trade Commission just announced a new set of green guidelines that affect a number of different industries, the most notable of which is the professional cleaning industry. Eco-friendly cleaning techniques are incredibly popular; most consumers, when given the choice, will consistently select the greenest option available to them. The new guidelines, however, are prompting the industry to go back and take a second look at how they have been labeling their services and green products.
Most traditional and green cleaning products have certification information listed on their labels, and these details are classified in one of three ways. First-party certifications come directly from the manufacturer; the FTC now requests that manufacturers make it clear that their product was not certified through an independent organization. Obviously, this means that consumers may be skeptical about using such products.
Second-party certifications are awarded by cleaning industry associations, like the ISSA. Like first-party certifications, it must be explained that the organization issuing the certification has a vested interest in the cleaning industry. While second-party certifications are a step up from first-party certifications, consumers may still be wary of accepting the information at face value.
Third-party certifications are the most highly regarded designations. They are only awarded after the product has gone through a rigorous “testing” process to ensure that the item lives up to the expectations of the UL/Environment, Green Seal and similar organizations. The analysis is completed by an independent, third party.
While you may think that all you need to do is look for a third-party certification as you are buying a cleaning product, it is not that easy. Regardless of which type of certification the product is labeled with, the manufacturer has to make it clear whether the whole product qualifies for the certification or just particular aspects of it. As a result, buyers need to carefully read the label to determine whether the product meets their needs.
Because of the new guidelines, fewer products will be labeled as “eco-friendly” or even “green” because the FTC thinks these terms are overused and do not really describe most products accurately. If they are added to the packaging, the manufacturer has to clarify why the product is environmentally responsible. In addition, “free of” may also be eliminated from a lot of advertising.
The new guidelines are forcing the cleaning industry to back up any claims they make with respect to a product’s “green factor.” As a result, if a Midland pest control technician wants to pick up an eco-friendly cleaning product or a homeowner wants something safe to use around his children, they should both have an easier time determining which products meet their needs.