FAQ

FAQ

About Green Seal

  • What is Green Seal?

    Green Seal is the nation’s premier ecolabel. We develop stringent, life-cycle-based, multi-attribute standards and certify products and services that meet them. Operating as a nonprofit since its founding in 1989, we have certified thousands of products and services in over 450 categories and are specified by countless schools, government agencies, businesses, and institutions looking to green their purchasing.

  • What is the Green Seal mission?

    Our mission is to transform the economy for a healthier, greener world. Our vision is for a healthy society in balance with nature.

  • What is Green Seal certification?

    Green Seal Certification is a process that ensures that a product or service meets rigorous performance, health, and environmental criteria. These criteria can be found in each of our official standards, which are organized by product/service category. Earning Green Seal Certification allows manufacturers & providers to substantiate their environmental claims and helps purchasers identify products that are proven safer for human health and the environment.

  • What makes Green Seal certifications trustworthy?

    We have an open and transparent process for developing the standards, which includes input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders. Our standards, together with our comprehensive and detailed evaluation process, continue to make Green Seal one of the most trusted ecolabels.

  • Does Green Seal certify companies?

    We do not certify entire companies, but we do certify services and individual products that are manufactured by companies.

    Companies with GS-42 certification (Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services) can also offer other cleaning programs that are not Green Seal compliant.

  • Do I simply pay for the certification and that's it?

    No. The certification process includes an application, a thorough review of the product composition or service practices, usually a site visit, and ongoing monitoring. Earning Green Seal Certification means a product/service has been tested and independently proven to meet one or more of our transparent and rigorous standards.

  • Is Green Seal a part of a larger company?

    No, Green Seal has been an independent, nonprofit organization since its founding in 1989.

  • How is Green Seal funded?

    Green Seal is a non-profit 50(c)(3) organization and is funded from numerous sources, including grants, contracts, revenue from certification, monitoring fees, and special projects.

  • Does Green Seal get a percentage of the sales of products/services it certifies?

    No, Green Seal does not get a percentage of the sales of products/services it certifies. Manufacturers of certified products and service companies pay an initial evaluation fee, license fee, and annual monitoring fee, and these fees are based on the number of products/services certified, the size of the company, and other factors.

  • Where does Green Seal get its authority to set standards and certify products and services?

    Green Seal operates under the international guidelines for environmental labeling programs, ISO 14020 and 14024, set by the International Organization for Standardization. Green Seal follows the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements for third-party certification. Green Seal is also a founding member of the Global Ecolabeling Network (GEN), and undergoes peer review via the GENICES process. Green Seal standards have been recognized and used by the US Federal Government, many State governments and other civic and environmental entities.

  • Does Green Seal apply internationally?

    Yes. Product manufacturers from all over the world have earned Green Seal certification for their products. The Green Seal Certification Mark may be used in foreign markets if purchasers are given information explaining the basis for the Mark. Green Seal also works internationally through its Global Ecolabeling Network (GEN) membership and mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with other national ecolabeling programs. In most cases, however, Green Seal is used in the United States and the ecolabeling programs of other countries are used within their own regions.

  • Does Green Seal recommend or promote certain products?

    No, Green Seal does not promote any particular brand or type of product. Green Seal is an impartial certifier and will certify all products that can meet the requirements in our standards.

  • How does Green Seal handle confidential information?

    Green Seal takes confidentiality very seriously, and confidentiality protocols and agreements are an important piece of the certification process. Confidential information is never shared without the explicit agreement of the original party. We have been trusted with handling the confidential information of hundreds of companies, large and small, since our start in 1989.

  • Does Green Seal work with government agencies?

    Yes. We actively advise and assist agencies in their efforts to green their purchasing, operations and facilities management functions.

  • Where are your offices located?

    Green Seal’s headquarters office is located in Washington, DC. We also have an office in Madison, WI.

  • How can I get in contact with someone at Green Seal?
  • What types of products and services do you certify?

    Green Seal certifies a wide variety of products and services — from sanitary paper, paints, and cleaning products to cleaning services, hotels, and restaurants. You can review a full list of certified products and services on our Certified Product and Services directory page.

  • What kind of payments are accepted?

    We accept checks, wire transfers and credit cards.  For assistance with payment, please contact us at 202-872-6400.

  • Is certification a one-time event?

    No. In order to remain certified, the product manufacturer, hotel, restaurant, or cleaning service needs to update and re-submit certain documents on a periodic basis as part of compliance monitoring. In many cases, compliance monitoring requires another onsite audit. This process ensures that the product or service is still in conformance with the applicable Green Seal standard.

Green Seal-Certified Products and Services

Certification Process

Materials Used in Manufacturing

  • Do you have a list of pre-approved chemicals we can use in manufacturing?

    No. In order to evaluate a chemical properly, we need to know how it is used and in what quantity. It is not possible to evaluate a chemical across-the-board without knowing more details.

  • My company makes raw materials used in product manufacturing. I’ve been contacted by Green Seal. Why?
  • How are fragrances handled in the Green Seal review process?

    Any raw materials in the formula, including fragrances, are evaluated ingredient by ingredient against the requirements in our standards. Green Seal obtains confidential raw material disclosures to establish all the ingredients in the formula. Each criterion in our standards determines whether an ingredient will be evaluated as a concentrate or dilution, and then in terms of cutoff level.

  • What does TCF mean and is it used for products with recycled fiber?

    TCF refers to “totally chlorine free.” That is a form of processing that is used for virgin fiber only.  Recycled fiber that uses no chlorine is referred to as PCF, “processed chlorine free.” Products in the marketplace that are claiming TCF would not be made from recycled fiber.

Green Seal Standards

  • Who decides what requirements go into the standards and what is required?

    The requirements in our standards are the result of research by our environmental scientists, who identify the major impacts of a product category on health and environment and set requirements that represent leadership in that product category. We then get input from a broad variety of stakeholders to ensure that our criteria are challenging and achievable, and accurately capture the environmental impacts and the current market practice.

  • What if a standard does not exist for my product/service?

    If you do not see a standard that fits your product or service, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your needs.

  • Who are the stakeholders participating in the standard development process?

    We invite manufacturers, raw material suppliers, distributors, retailers, product users, purchasers, regulators, researchers, trade groups, health and environmental groups, other NGOs, activists and anyone else who may be affected by the products or their use. Anyone who wants to participate in the commenting process is welcome!

  • How often does Green Seal update the standards?

    Green Seal re-visits each standard every three years or “as needed.” If we notice a significant change in the market, or if a stakeholder highlights a major shift in the market (a new chemical substitution, a new law that requires a certain level of extended producer responsibility, etc.), and we see that shift being incorporated into a significant minority (15-20% of the market), then we will announce a Standard Revision. We then collect information during a Scoping Phase, and initiate other important steps that are required for a Standard Revision. An example of this “as-needed” standard revision prompting was the GS-1 Standard for Sanitary Paper revision in which we expanded the scope to include products made from rapidly renewable fibers.

  • Why would Green Seal withdraw a standard?

    Green Seal withdraws a standard in response to one or more developments:

    • The environmentally-preferable options on the market have become mainstream
    • Other ecolabel programs have taken the reins, and we’re happy to bow out because we believe in the quality and integrity of their program
    • New technologies have improved the entire product category
    • The product category is no longer being manufactured and sold on today’s market

    If you have a question about why a standard was withdrawn, or the standard itself, please email us.

Green Office Partnership