GS-51 covers products and multi-component systems for laundry and dry cleaning in industrial and institutional settings. According to Petruzzi, the standard covers all the products that might be used in the laundry care setting, including detergents, stain removers, softeners, bleach, anti-static products, starch and more.

GS-51 tests the performance and functionality of these products in three areas. The first is actual cleaning, i.e. the removal of sample soils and stains from fabric test swatches. The next part considers the appearance of the fabric after using the product. In other words, color fastness, fabric appearance and softness.

Testing also evaluates the human health and environmental impacts. It prohibits a list of harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde donors, carcinogens, ozone depleting compounds and more. It protects water quality by setting limits on phosphorus content, toxicity and bioaccumulation. And it protects the air by limiting volatile organic compound (VOC) content.

Petruzzi explains that these products can impact the health of those manufacturing the product or workers doing the laundry down the line. And, because the products eventually go down the drain, they impact the environment as well, so “looking at the biodegradability, aquatic toxicity and other persistent impacts” is important, too.

Petruzzi says the industry took steps in the right direction when it limited the use of Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate (APE, APEO) Surfactants in the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI).

“But that’s looking at one chemical and one functional product,” he says. “It’s not a lifecycle look, and it didn’t address things like product performance.”

GS-51 takes a lifecycle approach to certification. It requires the products to be concentrated to reduce the volumes being transported and stored, leading to savings in fuel and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The certification also mandates that primary packaging contain at least 20 percent less material than an equivalent product.

Finally, with GS-51, the manufacturer, distributor or a third party must provide training, or training materials, on the proper use of these products. These documents must contain clear instructions for dilution, proper dosing in specific water hardness conditions, and instructions on proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers using the product.

EcoLogo’s UL 2776 standard for laundry detergents and fabric softeners evaluates many of the same things as GS-51. It compares the products with others of the same category and has set rigorous criteria for the entire lifecycle. Companies receive EcoLogo after a third party evaluates the product and certifies that it complies with the standard. EcoLogo also ensures these products are safer for human health and the environment, especially aquatic life. Detergents and fabric softeners with EcoLogo certification use less harmful chemicals, have low VOCs, are readily biodegradable, and are manufactured with the least amount of environmental impact.

EcoLogo’s new UL2829 standard for laundry bleach mandates that products use an oxygen-based bleaching process, for example hydrogen peroxide. In addition, products can’t contain any chlorine-based bleaching chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite.

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