The EcoLogo Program is placing a greater emphasis on its "unannounced" compliance program. This program makes sure companies certified by the organization continue to comply with the criteria and stay current over the term of their license.

The EcoLogo Program provides incentives for manufacturers and suppliers to develop environmentally preferable products and services. Once a product is certified by EcoLogo, the manufacturer may place the EcoLogo mark on the product and use the symbol in marketing materials as well. This helps consumers identify products and services that have less impact on the environment.

"Our agreement with participating companies has always allowed us to perform surveillance audits (as they are called) to make sure a product is still in compliance," says Susan Herbert, director of science and programs for EcoLogo. "But we are expanding this program to further help protect consumers, the environment, and the EcoLogo mark."

According to Herbert, the expanded audits for the remainder of 2006 and 2007 will cover 11 distinct product categories, including the cleaning and paper industries, 92 different manufacturers, and 243 products. Among the items to be investigated are:

• A review of manufacturing records and processes
• Marketplace samplings of products-analyzing for restricted, prohibited, and permissible ingredients
• Product testing as to performance and effectiveness
• Biodegradation of products

Why Now?
Herbert indicates that the program is not being expanded because there has been an increase in manufacturers failing to stay compliant. Instead, "it's our job," she says. "EcoLogo has significantly grown in the past couple of years and along with increased certification must come augmented surveillance."

Herbert adds most manufacturers have been very cooperative with the expansion of the program and understand it is a necessity.

"Many manufacturers are driven to produce Green products because of customer demand," she says. "But interestingly, once they start producing them, they realize the contribution they are making to the health of their customer and the planet. Because of this, we have never had a problem with the increased surveillance."