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PLACING NEW FOCUS ON GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS
The Port Authority recently convened a committee of members from four agency departments to synthesize and emulate standards set forth by the states of New York and New Jersey for the use of “green certified” cleaning products.
“The Port Authority is an environmental steward in both New York and New Jersey, and we know that there are executive orders in both states on green cleaning,” said Katharine Targett, leadership fellow for the Port Authority’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs. “As an agency representing both those states, we felt we should voluntarily mirror these practices. Doing so helps to support each state’s initiative, while strengthening our own commitment to environmental sustainability.”
To mirror New York and New Jersey state regulations, and to maintain impartiality, the Port Authority now relies on third-party certifying organizations -- Green Seal, EcoLogo, and Design for the Environment -- to certify products as “green.”
Experts consider the three selected organizations bellwethers in sustainability certification.
“I’ve been at the Port Authority for over 28 years,” says Mary Plaskon, an Operations Manager for the Inspection & Safety - Risk Management Division. “During that time period and for several years prior to me coming on board, our agency has maintained a list of cleaning, janitorial, and personal care products that have been reviewed and approved as safe for use. Consciousness of the environment has always been a high priority here, and it is never taken for granted. Now we are highlighting products on the list certified by Green Seal, EcoLogo, or Design for the Environment to educate staff of this noteworthy certification. By reviewing and updating our product approval process, we’re setting the stage for even stronger initiatives to come.”
The committee reviewed the procedures by which it delineates approved “green” cleaning products in the following categories: hand, bathroom, general purpose, window & glass, floor finishers & strippers, and carpet as ‘green’ on the Approved Products List.
Green cleaning products in these categories are now denoted with a leaf symbol. This makes it easier for Port Authority staff to differentiate between green certified cleaning products and conventional cleaning products.
Certification costs money, however, and might limit the participation of smaller firms that manufacture green products. In a nod toward this, the Port Authority adopted a New York state practice that allows companies to self-attest their products’ conformity. By signing an affidavit and providing supporting documentation, manufacturers can warrant that their products meet or exceed the prescriptions set forth by the third-party certification standards.
To find out more about this program, to comment, or to voice any questions, please email PAEnvironmental@panynj.gov.
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