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Whole Foods Sets New Standards for Green Household Cleaning Products

April 28, 2011

This week, Whole Foods Market became the first retailer in the country to adopt its own proprietary tiered green household cleaning product standards.

Whole FoodsUnder its color-coded Eco-Scale Rating System system, products will be rated, red, orange, yellow or green based on the specific set of environmental and sourcing standards each product meets.

The company said it is committed to working with vendors to evaluate and independently audit every product in its cleaning category. Each product will be required to meet the new baseline orange standard – at a minimum -- by Earth Day 2012. Red-rated products do not meet the Eco-Scale standards and will not be sold at Whole Foods Market. Naturally, the green color code is the highest possible rating.

Under current law, manufacturers do not have to disclose all ingredients in cleaning products. Under the Eco-Scale Rating System, Whole Foods Market’s household cleaning vendors will be required to list every ingredient on product packaging. To ensure compliance of the standards, all products will be audited through an independent third-party for verification before they are color-rated and labeled on shelves.

“Shoppers have a right to know what’s actually in the products they use to clean their homes,” said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market. “We’ve always carefully monitored ingredients. Now, with Eco-Scale, we’re able to help shoppers buy eco-friendly products with confidence and provide safer alternatives for their households and for the planet as a whole.”

Almost three out of four (73 percent) adults falsely believe that the government requires household cleaning products to provide a list of ingredients on the label, according to an online survey commissioned by Whole Foods and conducted by Harris Interactive in April among 2,483 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Another two-thirds (64 percent) believe that many household cleaning brands opt to disclose the full list of ingredients on packaging, when in fact few provide this information on product labels.

Several national cleaning products have already been rated -- from liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener to all purpose, glass and toilet bowl cleaners. The lineup includes 14 of Whole Foods Market’s store brand cleaning products, as well as a total of 34 products from natural cleaning brands such as Better for Life, Ecover, Greenshield and Method.