More Than A Dozen States Propose Green Cleaning Bills
As the penchant for green cleaning grows stronger, more states attempt to get in on the act. Recently, a number of states drafted legislation that would require officials to implement green cleaning regulations in schools and government facilities throughout their respective states.
The proposed bills in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont would require public, and in some instances private, K-12 schools to purchase and use environmentally friendly products.
Depending on the state, the bills would require schools to purchase environmentally friendly products such as: general-purpose chemicals, carpet chemicals, floor strippers, hand sanitizers, soaps and paper products.
Most bills identify green products as those that meet independent third party certification, including Green Seal and EcoLogo. Only a few states would recognize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment Program (DfE).
“We encourage states to accept the EPA’s DfE Seal,” says Bill Balek, director of legislative affairs, ISSA. “The EPA has a very good reputation as a product qualifier and users should be assured that DfE recognition means they are getting efficacious and safe products.”
Some of the bills require the schools to implement the changes only if it is economically feasible, but Balek does not foresee any objections because of how a similar bill was received in Illinois.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a single school to opt out because switching to these products is economically infeasible,” says Balek, referring to the Illinois Green Clean Schools Act that was passed more than a year ago. “This tells us the schools are supportive of the general proposition and the programs are economically neutral.”
Moving beyond the educational sector, other proposed green cleaning bills in Illinois and Washington would require all state agencies and buildings to purchase only environmentally friendly products. A bill proposed in South Carolina would require state contracts to provide a preference for green products.
Balek attributes the push for green products in other sectors to the success of the requirements in schools.
“It’s premised on a good experience where schools have gotten a good response from the custodial staff and building occupants,” he says. “The products have been economically neutral, so there is a natural progression to take it out into a broader audience as well.”
If passed, these bills would force distributors to offer products the states mandate as environmentally friendly.