According to a recent press release, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI, formerly The Soap and Detergent Association) expressed continuing support for the federal government’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program, but is disappointed with its newly-issued guidelines governing the qualification of products under the DfE’s Standard for Safer Cleaning Products.
 
The Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the DfE program, issued updated criteria for product attributes required for cleaning products to qualify for DfE recognition.
 
ACI said the Agency’s position on such areas as ingredient communication, use of prohibited ingredient lists not vetted through U.S. stakeholders, asthmagens, allergens and sensitizers, and enzymes could pose barriers to participation, would set unfortunate precedents for mandatory programs in other jurisdictions, and are not warranted by the science surrounding the safety of these products and ingredients.
 
Further, DfE has blurred the lines between what is purported to be a cleaning products standard with sections devoted to criteria for products designed for prolonged dermal contact.  While DfE responded that this was to broaden the sectors open for partnership, they have obscured the purpose of this standard, which is to establish “minimum requirements for identifying cleaning products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s DfE Safer Product Labeling Program (also known as the Formulator Program) criteria.”
 
“DfE’s provisions for the listing of ingredients used in cleaning products are not consumer-friendly and would threaten companies’ ability to protect confidential business information (CBI).  CBI protects the pipeline of innovation which leads to environmentally-friendly cleaning products,” said Michelle Radecki, ACI Vice President & General Counsel.
 
It remains to be seen whether the revised guidelines will discourage participation and undercut the program’s goal of encouraging the development of the kinds of products that are consistent with EPA’s mission, according to ACI.
 
“Cleaning product manufacturers are committed to providing consumers with meaningful information about the ingredients used in their products through the Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative, which took effect in January 2010,” said Radecki.
 
Links to company ingredient lists and information about the Initiative can be found at www.cleaninginstitute.org/ingredientcentral/.
DfE’s Standard for Safer Cleaning Products establishes minimum requirements for identifying cleaning products that meet EPA’s DfE Safer Product Recognition Program criteria.  EPA says the DfE label “enables consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families.”