Greenstar: A New Certification Player
With the industry’s focus on green cleaning, product certification has become one of the most reliable ways of ensuring accountability and influencing product choice. Green Seal, and EcoLogo (formerly the Environmental Choice Program), certify green products, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE), and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems provide general green guidelines.
In late August, a new player in green certification — Greenstar Certified, Western Springs, Ill. — launched its Web site and is accepting applications for review.
One manufacturer has already earned Greenstar certification and Steve Beicos, a representative of the company, says he plans to walk the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® trade show floor to educate more people about the new certification.
With so many established options for certification, how will Greenstar differentiate itself from the other certifying organizations?
“The standards are more stringent from an environmental and health point of view, in my opinion,” Beicos said.
Specifically, Beicos believes Greenstar has paid particular attention to protecting human health as well as the environment. To develop a list of prohibited ingredients, Beicos surveyed existing standards, and did research on existing chemicals.
To help achieve protection of human health and the environment, Beicos said certification will not be granted to products containing the following ingredients: phosphates or phosphonates, aromatic solvents, halogenated solvents, mineral spirits, nitromusks and polycyclic musks.
He did a lot of research in Europe as well as the United States to determine what the current standards for ecolabelling are.
“[Greenstar is] hopefully more of a global standard and a more stringent standard; that’s kind of the differentiator at this point,” said Beicos.
Greenstar will not serve as a testing agency; rather, companies will have to submit product data — listing all ingredients involved in the manufacture of the product — for Greenstar’s review and consideration.
For the time being, Greenstar’s focus will be on reviewing and certifying cleaning chemicals, but Beicos said he wants to hear from industry members about how the standard can be expanded. “We’re open to suggestions from the industry on other things,” said Beicos. “Part of the process is that people can submit suggestions for other products to be categories for certification.”
Providing a products standard is the company’s first vehicle for achieving these goals, but Beicos said Greenstar will eventually expand its focus to promoting sustainability through educational opportunities.
Greenstar’s Web site, www.greenstarcertified.org, contains information about the certification, links to the forms companies need to submit when seeking certification, as well as contact information.
|Jan/San Workers’ Lung Function At Risk |
According to a study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a chemical compound found in air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners and urinal blocks may damage the lungs of jan/san workers and others who inhale it regularly.
The compound, 1,4-dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB), comes in a solid white form and has an aroma similar to mothballs. It is seen as particularly hazardous because it can gradually build into dangerous concentrations inside a building over a period of time.
Data for the study came from 953 people between the ages of 20 and 59. Researchers will use the information to further their understanding of respiratory disease. People are encouraged to limit their exposure to products that contain 1,4 DCB.
ISSA Asks DHS To Reconsider ‘Safe Harbor’ Measures
ISSA, Lincolnwood, Ill., recently urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to withdraw its proposed “safe harbor” rule for employers who receive a “no-match letter.”
The safe harbor rule centers upon the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) no-match letter — a letter sent by the SSA to an employer to inform them that wage and tax statements submitted for an employee do not match SSA records.
Essentially, the rule would describe the responsibilities of an employer who receives a no-match letter, and tell that employer about the steps they need to take to prove they did not have knowledge that their employee is an illegal alien.
The proposed rule is intended to reduce the chance that the DHS will find that an employer had “constructive knowledge” of an employee’s legal status. Under the proposal, a no-match letter could basically become a document that would prove an employer had “constructive knowledge” of the employee’s legal status.
ISSA has two main arguments against the proposal. First, it disagrees with using the SSA’s no-match letter as a basis for this type of enforcement because the no-match letter is not indicative of immigration status.
Also, ISSA feels that the proposed rule comes at the wrong time because congressional debate on immigration is currently underway, and this rule could undermine that process.
Overall, ISSA feels the safe harbor rule will stick employers between a rock and a hard place — they risk criminal prosecution if they do not fire an employee whose identity and work authorization can’t be verified, but on the other hand, they could face a civil lawsuit for wrongful discharge.
ISSA asked that the DHS withdraw its proposal and let legislative action resolve this issue. As of press time, the proposed rule had not been withdrawn.
SDSI Initiative Progresses Following Public Meeting, Industry Input
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of developing the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) — a program that will recognize companies, facilities and others that voluntarily phase out or stop manufacturing or using nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants (NPEs). NPEs are used in cleaning solutions and detergents, among other products, and have been proven to be harmful to aquatic life.
The EPA recently released the transcripts of a June 12 public meeting at which concerned parties were asked to comment on the SDSI. Several industry companies and associations offered input, and most were in support of the effort, explaining they have been aware of the hazards associated with NPEs and have been working for years to reduce or eliminate their use in their products.
A few companies that use NPEs in the manufacturing process opposed the plan, and cited data that claims NPEs are not a prevalent problem and that a reduction of these surfactants will not help make water safer.
ISSA was also present at the meeting, and Bill Balek, ISSA’s director of Legislative Affairs, expressed support. However, Balek stressed that the EPA should consider the costs associated with NPE alternatives that manufacturers will have to bear under the program.
According to Kathleen Vokes, from the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program, the next step for SDSI is for the EPA to post a description of the program on the EPA’s Web site for comment.
N.Y. Schools To Use Green Seal Standard
Since the 2005 passage of New York state’s green purchasing guidelines for elementary and secondary schools, school officials have known they would need to “go green” by September 2006.
On August 1, 2006, the New York State Office of General Services (OGS), announced that it will use the Green Seal and Environmental Choice certification standards as part of its product selection criteria — not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Design for the Environment Formulator (DfE) Initiative — to define environmentally preferable products that can be used.
The decision to recognize only Green Seal and Environmental Choice certified products was based on the public comments that the OGS received.
According to an “ISSA Alert,” the organization was disappointed with the state’s decision not to recognize the EPA’s DfE initiative, because ISSA advocates a “multi-faceted approach to defining green cleaning products.”
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc., North Hollywood, Calif., has acquired the assets of General Accessory Mfg. Co. (GAMCO), Durant, Okla.
GAMCO manufactures commercial stainless steel and specialty washroom accessory products. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the company will operate as a separate division of Bobrick and continue to sell products from its Durant, Okla., location.
Hinton Sales, Norcross, Ga., a jan/san rep firm, was recently sold to Neron Hinton and Abby Hinton Ryan by Paul Hinton, founder of the business. The buyout allows the new owners to expand into a full-service business, including training, sales, customized product systems and customer service.
Andri Chemical of America, Hollywood, Fla., has acquired fellow distributor American Chemical Inc., Davie, Fla. The acquisition will expand Andri’s jan/san product lines to include soaps and detergents, all aimed at the commercial and industrial markets. There was no loss of staff positions in the acquisition and the only downsizing will occur through attrition.
DadePaper, Miami, has acquired Kahn Paper Co., Inc., Capitol Heights, Md., a distributor of foodservice disposables and jan/san supplies and equipment.
The acquisition will expand DadePaper’s presence in a new region.
Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, Minn., recently purchased Shield Medicare Ltd., Farnham, United Kingdom. Shield is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of contamination control products used in hospital cleanrooms.
Ecolab sees several similarities between the companies’ business approaches. The acquisition will expand Ecolab’s product offerings to medical customers.
Sun Sanitary Supplies Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla., was recently purchased by Sani-Chem Cleaning Supplies Inc., Clearwater, Fla., following several years of negotiations. The combined distributorship will operate under the Sani-Chem Cleaning Supplies name, and the new company is expected to provide enhanced service in the Tampa Bay area.
Barnes Group Inc., Bristol, Conn., an MRO distributor, has acquired the Kent Division of Premier Farnell for $41 million. Kent, a specialty cleaning chemicals distributor, will become part of Barnes Distribution, Cleveland.
Barnes Group sees the acquisition as a complement to its existing businesses in the United Kingdom and France.
EcoLogo Launches U.S. Campaign
The EcoLogo™ Program, Ottawa, Ontario, recently launched the “EcoLogo USA Campaign 2006-2007.” This program certifies a number of jan/san products and services as “green.”
The program aims to help U.S. consumers better understand the value of using environmentally preferable products and to promote the companies that produce them. EcoLogo USA is looking for corporate sponsors, who will receive several types of benefits, including a quarterly report outlining upcoming speaking engagements, seminars, and meetings with purchasing agents in major U.S. markets.
ABM Settles 9/11 Lawsuit
ABM Industries Inc., San Fransisco, a provider of janitorial, security and parking services, recently settled with Zurich American Insurance Co. for $80 million to cover claims filed following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
ABM provided janitorial, engineering and lighting services for the Trade Center. The settlement resolves the company’s claims for losses after the destruction of the buildings. In total, Zurich American Insurance will pay ABM $95.2 million for business interruption, property damage and other losses.
Biocide Purchases Expected To Rise
According to the Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland, U.S. demand for biocides is expected to increase 4.3 annually to $2.6 billion in 2010.
Growth is expected to be driven by sustained production levels in markets such as pulp and paper manufacturing and plastics production. Increased attention to the dangers associated with bacterial growth and food-borne pathogens will also fuel growth.
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