Green Seal's recently revised standards combine the GS-1 and GS-9 standards into a single GS-1 Green Seal Standard for Sanitary Paper Products, 3rd Edition. In December 2010, this non-profit, third-party certifying organization issued a major revision that includes facial tissue, bath tissue, paper towel and napkins, as well as new categories such as paper table cloths, tray liners and toilet seat covers under one single-use product standard.   

"Our standards are intended to be leadership sustainability standards, but they are also snapshots of the marketplace as it currently exists," says Mark Petruzzi, senior vice president of Outreach and Strategic Relations for Green Seal.

The GS-1 standard says that the fiber source for sanitary tissue and towel products must be 100-percent recovered material, made from up to 85 percent agricultural residue, with the balance made from post-consumer material. Or, it can be made from any combination of recovered material and agricultural residue, with the balance being from post-consumer material. The post-consumer levels were increased with the new standard and must meet requirements including:
•    Paper towels, general-purpose wipes and napkins: 50 percent
•    Bathroom tissue: 25 percent
•    Facial tissue: 15 percent

For all products, the papermaking process must be chlorine-free, and not include any additives or contaminants that are known to produce or release carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins.

Green Seal also looks at social responsibility, manufacturing sustainability requirements, as well as packaging and labeling requirements before issuing the certification mark.

"Our role, first and foremost, is to help consumers and purchasers find sustainable products that will meet their performance expectations," says Petruzzi. In the jan/san world, he says if you have to pull 8 sheets off a roll of toilet paper that doesn't work as well and it doesn't matter how green it was.

"Purchasers have moved past the 'buy recycled' and are looking at multiple product life-cycle considerations."