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Look for Safer Chemicals with the DfE Ecolabel

Posted 8 January 2009 by admin to Opinion.

When we say ‘design’, usually some interior design, furniture, cars or fashionable cloth marches in front of our eyes … however, ‘design’ relates to a purposeful creation of material stuff. Nevertheless, designers do not necessarily relate ‘design’ to chemical substances. The chemical substances that industries involve in their manufacturing, and that we routinely purchase in stores, and use in our daily lives, are man-made and therefore designed.

Having worked for four years in a water utility, I happen to be sensitive in noticing everything that is related to pipe drain and treatment by various means, and further discharge to a stream or a sea. Even where compliance with environmental regulations is present, the artificial chemical compounds reach the natural elements or interact with us, humans. How much a dose it needs to be to hit us either in the form of food or other accumulation processes? There is a way to prevent this…

The U.S. EPA established in 1997 the Design for the Environment (DfE) program, which is set up by a number of partnership projects that focus on different chemicals and their use. Companies get awarded a partner status under the DfE program when they prove hard work in finding environmentally benign solutions for ingredients or final products. The DfE team also provides technical reviews and recommendations for substitution of chemicals and obtaining a more positive environmental profile. As the development of this partnership, a database evolved, listing more environmentally friendly chemical ingredients (that are ultimately biodegradable).

The database designed to be used by companies to improve their performance and profile. In December 2008 a first supplier of renewably sourced solvent was registered. A third party review applies against the DfE requirements in order to be qualified for listing in the database. If an organisation is purchasing or distributing detergents, it is also eligible for certification under the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, which is one of the ongoing partnerships. If you have anything to do with cleaning products, at the front or use-end, why not go for it? We will all win!