You’ve probably heard of EPA’s Safer Choice program, which recognizes household and institutional cleaning and other products that are safer for human health and the environment. If you’re on the fence about pursuing Safer Choice certification for your company’s products, here are four of the reasons why some other companies have found participation in the program to be worthwhile:
1. Retailers love it.
More and more, major retailers are taking action to ensure that the products on their shelves don’t contain ingredients that are harmful to their customers. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, specifically urges its national and private brand suppliers to certify products using Safer Choice or comparable certification programs, and will start tracking the number of products and suppliers using credible certification programs next year. They’re not the only one taking chemical safety seriously – for example, Target rolled out a new chemical strategy last year, and recognizes products certified under the Safer Choice program in its Sustainable Product Index criteria. If you’re selling products to consumers, you know how important it is to maintain a good relationship with the retailers that carry your products. A Safer Choice certification will help retailers understand that you are aligned with their chemical safety goals and take them seriously.
2. It lets you brag about your product.
You know your product is made with ingredients that are safer for people and better for the environment, but can you safely make these claims in your advertising? In the past, companies making environmental and safety claims have run afoul of the FTC’s Green Guides when they haven’t been able to back them up. Some companies have even been sued for claiming their products are safer than the competition. So now that you’ve put all that work into formulating a greener, safer product, how can you make sure the world knows? Because the Safer Choice program is based on specific, transparent criteria, it helps you get out the message that your product is safer for people and the environment, without landing you in legal hot water.
3. Nothing slips through the cracks.
You care a lot about the safety of the ingredients in your products, and you know your customers do too. You do your best to work with suppliers to make sure that raw materials meet your company’s standards before they are used in your products. But what if your supplier says the chemicals in their product are confidential, or they don’t think to let you know about a preservative they’ve added? In the Safer Choice review process, suppliers disclose all components of their ingredients, including confidential information, residuals, and additives, to an independent third party under a non-disclosure agreement. So, you can rest assured that even the chemicals you aren’t aware of in your product are still among the safest for your customers and the environment. (As a side note, suppliers who list their products in CleanGredients have already done the work for you, so you can avoid surprises when you’re having your product reviewed.)
4. It’s credible.
There are a lot of products out there, making a lot of environmental claims. Some of the claims are legitimate, others less so. Safer Choice is a program run by the federal government, with a robust, transparent set of criteria. A Safer Choice certification cuts through confusion and greenwashing, and lets customers know that your product has undergone a rigorous review against a broad set of toxicological endpoints, as well as performance criteria. This is more than can be said for “green” products that haven’t been certified. As consumers are increasingly looking for safer and more environmentally-friendly products, the Safer Choice label lets them know that your product is the real deal.