Not all green chemicals are biobased, nor are all biobased chemicals considered green. But, there is a bit of overlap between the two categories, according to jan/san distributors.

“There are biobased products that also carry a third-party green certification,” says Renae Hesselink, vice president of sustainability for Nichols Inc., Spring Lakes, Mich. “Choosing a product that meets both criteria would be the most beneficial.”

With green cleaning programs continually being mandated by federal and state governments, distributors are forced into action to help customers find a green product with biobased formulations. When doing so, distributors say the key is to ensure that all products, regardless of base, be certified green. This is a distinct case where a third-party green certification will help determine the appropriate trade-off.

Teresa Farmer, green program specialist with Knoxville, Tenn.-based Kelsan Inc., says sometimes it is difficult for her customers who have to report to the federal government to choose the right product for their buildings. She helps them determine the biobased content of the products that they can use.

“They are not only required to use green cleaning chemicals but also have to report the biobased percentage of the products that they use,” she says. “So as a distributor, we must help them find the right product that meets all of these requirements in addition to making sure that it is an effective cleaner and is within their budget. I advise them to select third-party certified green cleaning products that work for their particular situation.”

Getting customers to understand that biobased chemicals do in fact differ from green chemicals requires a little education. But differentiating the two chemical categories will help to meet a facility’s green cleaning requirements.