Sample third-party labels, certifications, and databases for health care goods and services
(Sustainable procurement guide) Finding sustainable products in health care is achievable through a number of resources. The list below provides links to sustainable products identified by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and labels and certifications specific to the health care sector.
These labels are only a sample of reputable third-party standards and certifications covering single or multiple attributes. Certifications for a single attribute verify one criterion, such as energy efficiency. Certifications based on multiple attributes verify more than one criterion to reduce the life cycle impacts of a product. Labels vary in quality and thoroughness. Not all are appropriate to be used alone.
Most major labels maintain a website that provides technical information on the standards a product must meet to qualify and requirements on maintaining certification. Some provide proof of compliance with the standards.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) classifies voluntary labeling into three types. While all of the labels may be useful to review, ISO type I ecolabels are considered to be the strongest for procurement purposes because they take into account all adverse environmental impacts of a product throughout its life cycle and are awarded only after an independent process of verification.
Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm promote the strongest certifications and standards to ensure human and environmental health. Use these labels as purchasing criteria to advance your sustainable procurement program.
Lists/databases of sustainable products
|Refer to Green Seal and UL Ecologo-certified products
|City of Vienna, Austria: Viennese database for disinfectants (WIDES database) This resource was developed with Health Care Without Harm Europe and is the subject of SHiPP research. We are conducting market research to identify suppliers for safer disinfectants in all regions.
|Food service ware
Center for Environmental Health: Foodware database
Clean Production Action: PFAS-free food service ware products
|Health care waste treatment technologies
|Health Care Without Harm: health care waste treatment technologies database
|Food purchasing criteria
Sample certifications: Single attributes
Carpet and Rug Institute - Green Label Plus is a program for carpet, carpet cushions, and adhesives to help identify products with very low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This does not measure other chemicals of concern in these products.
ENERGY STAR, a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lists qualified energy-efficient products (such as lighting, exit signs, appliances, and office equipment).
EPA WaterSense is a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. EPA as both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for water conservation.
Sample certifications: Multi-attributes
Sustainable food definitions criteria checklist is a comprehensive and vetted list of third-party certifications and label claims for sustainable food that Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm have determined to be meaningful.
Associacao Brasileira De Normas Technicas is a type 1 ecolabel in Brazil including for cleaning and hand hygiene products.
Blue Angel is a German label that certifies a variety of products and services according to stringent requirements in the areas of health, occupational, and consumer protection. It is a type 1 ecolabel.
Biodegradable Products Institute is a nonprofit organization that certifies products that will biodegrade in a commercial composting facility. Products must meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards D6400 and/or ASTM D6868 that they will biodegrade quickly, completely, and safely, leaving no synthetic residues. (Note: As of January 2020, certified products do not contain per- or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances [PFAS].)
Cradle to Cradle is a third-party sustainability label that requires achievement across multiple attributes including safer chemicals (material health), efficient use of water, use of renewable energy, material reutilization (recycling or composting), and corporate social responsibility.
EU Ecolabel was established in 1992 and has been recognized across Europe and worldwide. The EU Ecolabel is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life cycle and promotes a circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process. EU Ecolabel criteria also encourage companies to develop products that are durable and easy to repair and recycle.
Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool is a global rating system for sustainable electronics. Using EPEAT, purchasers can evaluate, compare, and select electronics based on environmental attributes. EPEAT currently includes categories for computers and displays, televisions, imaging equipment (printers, copiers, scanners, multifunction devices, fax machines, and mailing machines), servers, and mobile phones. New standards are being developed covering more categories of electronics.
e-Stewards is a global program designed to enable individuals and organizations who dispose of old electronic equipment to easily identify recyclers that adhere to the highest standard of environmental responsibility and worker protection. This includes not sending electronics to developing countries, landfilling or incinerating materials, or using prison labor to recycle electronic parts.
Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests by tracking certified material through the production process to the consumer, including processing, transformation, manufacturing, and distribution. There are three FSC on-product labels that identify the mix of recycled content and materials coming from FSC-certified forests.
Global Organic Textile Standard was developed to unify existing standards in eco-textile processing and define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, including harvesting of the raw materials and environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing. This label requires the use of certified organic fibers. Search their product database on their website.
Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that sets standards through a multi-stakeholder, consensus-based process for products (such as janitorial cleaners, floor strippers, and paints) and services (including hotels and cleaning services) and certifies products that meet their standards.
Green-e is a labeling program established by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions, which verifies companies that use Green-e-certified renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy, and makes it easy for businesses and individuals to purchase verified green energy.
The Nordic Ecolabel or Nordic Swan is the official sustainability label for products from the Nordic countries. It was introduced by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1989. The Nordic Swan covers 67 different product groups, from hand soap to furniture to hotels. In 1994, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel was one of the founders of the international network for type 1 ecolabels, the Global Ecolabelling Network.
Scientific Certification Systems is a private company that certifies a single or multiple attributes including recycled content, organic, or low volatile organic compounds. You can search various product categories in their green products guide.
TCO Certified is a comprehensive sustainability certification for eight categories of IT products: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one computers, projectors, and headsets. TCO Certified supports efforts to reduce risk and promote social and environmental responsibility through independent verification of criteria through the IT product life cycle.
The Living Product Challenge is a multi-attribute standard that certifies products based on seven performance areas: place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. The criteria reflect positive actions taken.
UL ECOLOGO Certification is a voluntary certification that shows a product has completed scientific testing and is in compliance with third-party environmental performance standards for reduced environmental impact found most often in cleaning and janitorial products.
UL Greenguard Certification helps buyers identify products that help improve the indoor air quality with low chemical emissions. Certified product types include flooring, paints, and furniture. GREENGUARD Gold Certification reflects ultra-low chemical emissions.