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P&G and Green Good Housekeeping

Posted 31 August 2012 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News.

P&G – the  largest consumer packaged goods company in the world today – announced that they have selected the Green Good Housekeeping Seal for some of its major brands. So far, two big products have earned the green label – Pampers Cruisers diapers for toddlers and Tide Coldwater Laundry Detergent.

This is in addition to P&G’s Future Friendly label which is a self-designated label for P&G products that “deliver a meaningful environmental benefit in one or more of the following categories: energy, water or waste” and that “…these reductions and environmental benefits must be supported by sound, transparent science and substantiated data.”

One of the reasons the Green Good Housekeeping Seal was chosen was that consumers recognize the label, apparently.

We suspect it’s also a differentiation strategy – after all, only companies who advertise in Good Housekeeping can apply for the label, and only those who also pass the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval can go for the green version.

For non-American audiences, you might be interested to know that Good Housekeeping Magazine (owned by Hearst) has been around since 1885 (yes, that’s 1885!) and that since 1909 it has offered a “Seal of Approval” guaranteeing the products with a warrantee that: “If any product that bears our Seal or is advertised in this issue* (with certain exceptions) proves to be defective within two years from the date it was first sold to a consumer by an authorized retailer, we, Good Housekeeping, will replace or repair the product or refund the purchase price.” As such, the green “Seal of Approval” certainly ticks at least some of the credibility boxes with consumers.

But it does beg the question as to whether the environmental performance requirements of the green Seal of Approval will be similarly backed up in the same way by either Good Housekeeping, or companies like P&G. Perhaps the more interesting question is: Would it even be possible to do so?

Let’s take paper-products as an example. The Green Good Housekeeping Seal’s Criteria for Paper Goods states that paper fibre must be from a certified sustainable source. But what certification? And what standards are recognized? Depending on the answer to that, you will get a different ability to actually trace back the source and know where it came from.  Those of us who have exposure to diapers on a daily basis have a pretty good idea of what is “in” a diaper at the end of its life (apologies)…but as for knowing what is made from, who knows?

Presumably P&G knows the answer to that question using its Supplier Sustainability Scorecard . Perhaps they might also let us consumers know too?