If jan/san distributors are thinking about private labeling green products, they must be reminded that certain third-party certifications will not be carried over from their private label manufacturer, even if the product has the exact formulation and all that has changed is the name on the package. Distributors are required to reapply with third party certification organizations such as Green Seal and EcoLogo. However, doing so is out of most distributors’ price range.

Not only must distributors apply for certification at the onset of selling the product, but also reapply for recertification every year afterwards. This has forced many distributors to drop certification on their private labels after the initial year. In fact, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based P.B. Gast & Sons, who currently has three green floor care products certified under Green Seal may not redeem their certification because of the high price tag.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge because you don’t want to go through having to register it every year,” says Fritz Gast, the company’s executive vice president.

Distributors say it makes more sense financially to sell green certified products outside of their private label name if the customer interest isn’t there.

“It makes sense that if you’re not pushing a lot of that product to save yourself on the registration fees and let the manufacturer do it and sell that name brand instead of the private label,” says Gast.

One exception is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program. If contents of a private label product are identical to these in a DfE-recognized product, then it may bear the DfE logo. Distributors do not need to be a partner with the DfE program, either.

Distributors must also be mindful of restrictions placed on private label product disinfectants. All disinfectants have to be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Manufacturers need to get an EPA registration to be able to sell to a distributor. So, if a distributor wants to private label a disinfectant they must also have to get an EPA registration. The cost of doing so is minimal and a lot of the private label companies will actually pick that cost up for distributors and they’ll help them with the paper work associated with getting the product registered. If distributors do not comply with EPA regulations, they can face regulatory fines by the EPA.

Building a private label line takes time and patience. Seen as a great cost-saving avenue for customers, these proprietary lines can also be a boon for distributors as they offer high margins and opportunities for customer retention.