Invitation to Comment: Criteria for Environmental Innovation for 3M Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets
Published on: 3/18/2020
By: Anne Hancock
Green Seal’s Environmental Innovation Program allows product manufacturers to explore environmental and health impacts, engage in transformative product innovation, and achieve global recognition to the newest sustainability standard.
3M is a member of the initial cohort of beta program participants who are pursuing certification of their products under the Environmental Innovation Standard (GS-20, Edition 2.0). The company submitted the Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets for GS-20 Review with the following innovation claim: A significantly reduced environmental impact resulting from both leadership levels of post-consumer recycled content and improved functional performance.
According to 3M, the Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets deliver a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the resource extraction, resin production, and manufacturing lifecycle phases by manufacturing a single-use product with 90% post-consumer recycled content PET.
Green Seal is seeking your feedback on the innovation claims for these products. We invite all members of our stakeholder community and the general public to submit comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback will be accepted through 11:59PM ET on April 19, 2020.
About 3M Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets
When used as intended, the 3M Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets provide commercial surface clearing to remove dust, dirt, and debris from floors and surfaces (e.g., out-of-reach surfaces such as fans, wall corners, and light fixtures) in order to prepare surfaces for disinfection and cleaning in commercial spaces.
Innovation Claim Details
According to 3M, this product differs from others on the market by incorporating at least 90% post-consumer recycled content polyethylene terephthalate (PET), while also performing at least 30% better than competing surface clearing products.
Manufacturing a single-use product with 90% post-consumer content PET is estimated to deliver a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the resource extraction, resin production, and manufacturing lifecycle phases, compared to single use cloths made without recycled content.
In addition, improving product performance for surface clearing by at least 30% compared to competitor products results in more output per dust sheet over time and for each surface clearing task, thereby maximizing the life of this single use product.
Green Seal has not yet validated any of these claims. Once Green Seal finalizes the requirements after this public comment period, 3M will submit documentation for third-party certification by Green Seal. The Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets will achieve Green Seal Certification for Environmental Innovation if all requirements within the 3M Easy Trap Sweep and Dust Sheets Criteria Document are met.
Environmental and Human Health Impacts
Dust sheets are designed to be single use, therefore requiring more rapid resoucre extraction for the production of virgin plastic fibers compared to products that are designed to be reused dozens or hundreds of times, including microfiber dust wipes and cloths and cotton fringe mops. Reusable alternatives require laundering after use and thus require energy consumption during the use phase, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenhouse gas emissions are a significant impact within the manufacturing phase for PET production. According to the Center for International Environmental Law, "plastic refining is among the most greenhouse gas-intensive industries in the manufacturing sector—and the fastest growing. The manufacture of plastic is both energy intense and emissions intensive in its own right, producing significant emissions through the cracking of alkanes into olefins, the polymerization and plasticization of olefins into plastic resins, and other chemical refining processes."
Incorporating recycled content into plastic materials significantly reduces the greenhosue gas profile of the product, which is arguably the most significant lifecycle impact of a single-use petroleum-based product. This assessment is based on comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions data evaluating each lifecycle phast of single use plastics, as documented by Material Economics where plastic materials require 5.1 metric tonnes of CO2 per metric tonne of plastic produced for 100% virgin content, and only 1.4 metric tonnes of CO2 per metric tonne of plastic produced for 100% recycled content.
Single use dust sheets create significantly more waste over time than reusable microfiber and cotton products. Given that the assumed end-of-life destination for dust sheets is the landfill, it is important to maximize both 1) the amount of post-consumer recycled content in the product to reduce the product impact profile and 2) the functional performance of the product to obtain the greatest functional output per dust sheet.
About Green Seal’s Environmental Innovation Standard
Green Seal’s Environmental Innovation Standard (GS-20) provides a framework for the certification of environmental innovations in a variety of product categories. Applicants follow the steps below to complete the process:
Earning certification under the GS-20 Standard demonstrates that Green Seal, an independent third party, has verified the environmentally innovative aspect(s) of a product. The certification includes verification that the product innovation results in a significant reduction of human health and environmental impacts compared to products of the same functional class.
By Anne Hancock, Program Manager - Environmental Innovation