Throughout the world, there are more than 400 registered green certification logos. The Natural Marketing Institute says this "green seal clutter" makes it difficult for consumers to know what each logo means, if it's credible, and ultimately, if they want to purchase the product. This is certainly the case as purchasers attempt to identify and understand the plethora of green certifications outlined on towel and tissue products.

What's interesting, the institute also explains that 43 percent of consumers in the United States say they will more likely buy a product if it has a seal or green certification mark indicating it is environmentally friendly.  

Jeff Swenerton, communications director for the Center for Resource Solutions' and the Green-e program, agrees, noting that price is the first differentiator, but "if purchasers need a tie breaker, it's going to be environmental performance."

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) introduced a long-awaited update to its Green Guides on Oct. 1, 2012. The new section on green certifications and seals of approval explains and gives examples of how they affect a product's credibility. The Green Guides reflect the following, says the FTC:
• Endorsements must be truthful and not misleading.
• If the advertiser doesn't have proof that the endorser's experience represents what consumers will achieve by using the product, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results in the depicted circumstances.
• If there's a connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.

The importance of standards is not a secret in the jan/san industry. There are no federal guidelines, however, governing whether or not a product is "green."

"It really becomes important to have an empirical standard," says Michael Oshman, founder and CEO of the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). "Every company wants to tell why they are great environmentally. A standard becomes an honest third-party analysis we can rely on."

There are various third-party green certifications for almost every product or equipment in a custodial departments arsenal. Towel and tissue are no exception.  

Here is a breakdown of the specifics of each green certification found on towel and tissue products:
Green Restaurant Association
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Green Seal
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)