A major polling exercise has revealed widespread skepticism among consumers towards corporations’ sustainability programs, as well as concern over whether products marketed as environmentally sustainable are guilty of “greenwash.”
Interviews with 19,000 people in eight countries found that 70 percent of people are disillusioned about corporate progress towards sustainability goals and suspicious of potential greenwashing activity by businesses.
The research, published by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), found that sustainability is a major concern for citizens of the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, Japan, China, India and Brazil, with four out of five participants in the study reporting they considered sustainability when making day-to-day purchases.
But this heightened concern is not necessarily translating into action, according to the findings, which reveal that just 20 percent of consumers believe they can have a positive impact on the environment through their purchases.
When the rechargeable battery wears out inside a typical electric toothbrush, it can’t be replaced—which means the entire, otherwise functional toothbrush ends up in a landfill (or, if someone is particularly responsible, an e-waste recycling facility). But a new modular electric toothbrush, designed with sustainability in mind, can be repaired, so it lasts as long as possible.
From the London-based startup SURI (for Sustainable Rituals), the toothbrush has a body made from easily-recyclable aluminum rather than plastic. The plant-based plastic heads can be sent back for recycling in either the U.K. or the U.S., or, in some cases, industrially composted. And the electronic components inside are designed to be replaced if a repair is needed.
One new showerhead saves more water by sensing when you need maximum flow. Before you step in the shower, or when you’re soaping up, the shower automatically slows down. But as soon as you step forward, it dials up the pressure. “Many times, people think saving water means a compromised experience, and that’s something we’re trying to change,” says Chih-Wei Tang, CEO of Oasense, the startup that designed the smart showerhead, called Reva.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced two listening sessions to collect input on the development of a new grant opportunity made possible by the $100 million investment in the agency’s Pollution Prevention (P2) program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The new grant opportunity will encourage products, purchasing, and/or supply chains that are safer, more sustainable, and environmentally preferable and advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold environmental agenda.
The P2 program also delivers on President Biden’s Justice40 commitments to deliver 40% of benefits from climate, clean energy and pollution reduction investments, including from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to underserved or overburdened communities.
“The products that we buy, use, and work with every day can have a real impact on our health and the environment like air and water pollution, waste disposal issues, and climate change,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer. “This new grant opportunity would leverage our existing tools and programs to increase access to safer and more sustainable products, like products that conform to EPA’s recommended standards and ecolabels, especially in disadvantaged and other communities with environmental justice concerns.”
A listening session on Sept. 7 will seek input from tribes on this new grant opportunity. Another session on Sept. 8 is for all potential applicants and stakeholders. Eligible applicants include U.S. states, Tribes, territories, or entities of these governments such as colleges and universities. Eligible applicants may also partner with interested stakeholders. Matching funds will not be required for these grants, making this funding opportunity more accessible to underserved and overburdened communities. The funding cycle for the new grant opportunity announced today would run in the off years of the traditional P2 grants.
EPA is interested in understanding how these grants can be most accessible and useful to applicants. EPA will also seek additional insight into how funded projects can increase supply and demand for safer, environmentally preferable products, such as those certified by EPA’s Safer Choice program or identified by EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program. Additionally, the agency is also interested in feedback on which projects would best support the grant’s goals, how to best encourage grantees to partner with other organizations to maximize project impact, how to best encourage projects that will benefit underserved communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and which barriers exist to potential applicants and what can be done to minimize those barriers.
This new grant opportunity is in addition to the P2 grant opportunities announced earlier this year for states and Tribes to develop and provide businesses with information, training, and tools to help them adopt P2 practices. These included a new P2 grant opportunity of approximately $14 million funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which built upon the traditional P2 grants program that has been administered by the agency for over 25 years. EPA anticipates announcing the awardees for these opportunities in the coming months.
Register for the webinars using the following links:
Have you thought about the environmental impact of the swag items that your library provides at events? From the raw materials used to create the items through their lifecycle until their final disposal, promotional items have an impact on the planet. These self-evaluation rubrics developed by the American Library Association’s Sustainability Roundtable will help library workers and vendors evaluate the sustainability of promotional materials before they buy.
With $10m in series A funding, the carbon assessment platform Planet FWD hopes to dramatically reduce the time it takes CPG companies to evaluate and neutralize their environmental impact while simultaneously speeding up their development of eco-friendly products that consumers want.
A new EU-wide public database enabling consumers to compare the energy efficiency class and other data about different household products has been launched by the European Commission this week. With detailed information on well over 1 million products, the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL) breaks new ground in helping EU consumers become more energy efficient. Building on the highly successful EU energy label, this innovative tool provides unprecedented market transparency free of charge at a time when consumers are looking to make savings on their energy consumption, and when the Commission is trying to boost energy efficiency across the EU.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new, modern Design for the Environment (DfE) logo that will appear on antimicrobial products like disinfectants and sanitizers within the next year. EPA’s DfE logo helps consumers and commercial buyers identify antimicrobial products that meet the health and safety standards of the normal pesticide registration process required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as well as other rigorous criteria required by the agency
“Protecting the health and safety of our families and our homes is central to EPA’s mission,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “EPA is excited to take the DfE program to the next level with a bold, new logo to further empower consumers to make environmentally and health-conscious buying decisions.”
To further EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment, in 2009, the DfE program began including products that sanitize and disinfect, including wipes and sprays used to treat surfaces like countertops, tubs, tile, and toilets. To qualify for the DfE logo, every ingredient in a product must meet a rigorous set of chemical and toxicological standards.
EPA has seen a surge of engagement in the last few years from consumers, schools, and other organizations who want to know more about how the products they use affect their health and the environment—and who are eager to make the most responsible purchasing choices they can. The updated logo released today should make DfE-certified products easier for purchasers to find, which in turn will encourage companies to seek certification for their products.
Companies who make products carrying the DfE logo have invested heavily in research and reformulation to ensure that their products meet the DfE certification requirements. Pursuing DfE certification provides an opportunity for companies to work toward their sustainability goals.
DfE products meet criteria that evaluate human health and environmental effects, product performance, packaging, and ingredients. The requirements are intended to:
minimize any possible risks to human health by excluding ingredients that might have the potential to negatively impact young children, cause cancer, or have other negative effects;
further protect fish and other aquatic life;
minimize pollution of air or waterways and prevent harmful chemicals from being added to the land; and
ensure products have no unresolved compliance, enforcement, or efficacy issues.
EPA does not consider the logo to be an endorsement. Similar to saying a pesticide is “EPA-registered” because EPA has found it meets the registration standard, the DfE logo indicates that the product has been reviewed and meets the FIFRA registration standard as well as the standards for the DfE program.
To learn about the process for seeking DfE certification for antimicrobial products, see EPA’s website.