Invitation to Comment: Criteria for Environmental Innovation for ABCO Products' NaturaYarn

Published on: 4/6/2020
By: Anne Hancock

Green Seal’s Environmental Innovation Beta Advisory Program allows product manufacturers to explore environmental and health impacts, engage in transformative product innovation, and achieve global recognition to a new type of sustainability standard. 

ABCO Products 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 their NaturaYarn mop head for GS-20 Review with the following innovation claim: NaturaYarn mop heads are able to reduce environmental impacts as a result of proprietary equipment design using garment industry scraps resulting in 100% post-industrial reclaimed textile mop heads. 

According to ABCO Products, the NaturaYarn mop head eliminates the greenhouse gas impacts associated with extracting virgin materials for plastic textile production; the product eliminates the use of additional agrochemicals, water consumption, and disruption to habitats associated with growing and harvesting additional virgin cotton; and this product establishes a circular supply chain by increasing the value of and demand for post-industrial apparel scraps.


Seeking Feedback

Green Seal is seeking your feedback on the innovation criteria doument, including innovation claims,impact analysis, and certification requirements for this product.  We invite all members of our stakeholder community and the general public to submit comments by email to standards@greenseal.org. Feedback will be accepted through 11:59PM ET on May 7, 2020.

About ABCO Products' NaturaYarn

When used as intended, this product provides wet and dry floor care maintenance in commercial spaces including (but not limited to) industrial, hospitality, educational, and food service settings.

Innovation Claim Details

ABCO Products claims that through a proprietary equipment design resulting in mop heads made from 100% post-industrial blended cotton and polyester waste sourced from reclaimed textiles from garment manufacturing scrap, NaturaYarn mop heads are able to achieve a minimum of 20% reduction of two or more significant environmental or human health impacts associated with this product category.

The product design and manufacturing process leverages the textile waste material of a garment design center and promotes circularity within the apparel sector – one of the most well-documented and environmentally impactful manufacturing sectors. Textile waste is at an all-time global high; massive amounts of water and energy are used, and pollutants released into the environment, to generate textile material that would otherwise never reach an end user. 

In addition, ABCO has installed on-site solar arrays at its production facility to reduce energy demand from non-renewable sources during the manufacture of its mop heads. ABCO continues to increase the share of its energy demand from on-site, renewable sources.

Green Seal has not yet validated any of these claims. Once Green Seal finalizes the requirements after this public comment period, ABCO Products will submit documentation for third-party certification by Green Seal. NaturaYarn will achieve Green Seal Certification for Environmental Innovation if all requirements within the ABCO Products NaturaYarn Criteria Document are met.

Environmental and Human Health Impacts

Mop heads are commonly made from blends of cotton and synthetic materials. The production of both materials creates significant environmental impacts. 

Cotton serves as the basis for nearly 50 percent of the world’s clothes, household goods, and commercial products, and accounts for 85 percent of all natural fibers used in these materials. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “cotton’s most prominent environmental impacts result from the use of agrochemicals (especially pesticides), the consumption of water, and the conversion of habitat to agricultural use.  Conventional production practices for cotton involve the application of substantial fertilizers and pesticides. Pesticides threaten the quality of soil and water, as well as the health of biodiversity in and downstream from the fields. Heavy use of pesticides also raises concern for the health of farm workers and nearby populations.” The organization adds that “runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and minerals from cotton fields contaminates rivers, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers. These pollutants affect biodiversity directly by immediate toxicity or indirectly through long-term accumulation.”

Synthetic fibers are made from synthesized polymers whose raw materials include petroleum-based chemicals. These material inputs  present significant resource extraction impacts, particularly related to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the World Wildlife Fund, polyester (a comparable synthetic material to nylon) requires 3-5 times more energy to produce than cotton textiles.

During the manufacturing phase, common environmental impacts from textile production (whether cotton or synthetic fiber) include soil and water quality degradation from toxic effluent emissions from wet treatment processes from the use of dyes, dye carriers, lubricants, detergents, and complexing agents.

According to van der Velden et. al., energy use for production of yarn, fabric, and the finished product (including shipping) is dependent on a wide range of variables related to the processes employed and the region of manufacturer. The variables include the type of fiber, the makeup, the dyestuff, the dyeing technique, and the machinery employed to produce the fiber. 

Learn more about the environmental and human health Impacts of this product category by downloading the Innovation Claims.



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: 

Green Seal GS-20 Environmental Innovation Cycle Graphic

 

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