The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program recently enhanced its Standard for Safer Cleaning Products, the cornerstone of its “green” product recognition program, by establishing an auditing process that includes on-site and desk audits.

“ISSA applauds DfE for this significant upgrade to its environmental standard for cleaning products,” said ISSA Director of Environmental Services Bill Balek,  “This significant improvement will not only ensure a more robust standard and product recognition program, but also, ultimately, will pave the way for increased market acceptance of the DfE mark.”

In addition to establishing an auditing process for the DfE product recognition program, the recent enhancements also include provisions that allow recognition of products in certain continuous dispensing systems, and clarifications of certain terms related to third party partners.

The primary purpose of the newly adopted auditing process is to ensure that DfE-labeled product contain the same ingredients as were reported to DfE during the partnership development process.

According to EPA officials, the audit process will serve an important role in encouraging self-surveillance and good management practices, as well as building trust among institutional purchasers and the public in the value and reliability of the DfE product recognition program.

The enhancements to the DfE program were proposed based on the suggestions of a Technical Improvement Group formed by the EPA and comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders including industry, environmental groups, state agencies, purchasers, and others who have an interest in green cleaning products. Balek is a member of the group that meets regularly for the purpose of exploring ways to improve the DfE Standard for Safer Cleaning Products.

In setting forth its recommendations on establishing an audit process for DfE, the group followed guiding principles designed to ensure that the audit program is effective and efficient, while at the same time minimizing the burden on industry participants in the DfE program.

Under the new provisions, each year, DfE partners will experience one of three auditing processes: a desk audit; an on-site audit; or partnership renewal. The sequencing of these processes will depend on where a partner currently is in the three-year partnership cycle. DfE’s third-party reviewers (NSF International and ToxServices) will administer the audit process.

More information on the recent enhancements to the DfE program can be found on the DfE web site at - see the text box on the top right side of the home page.