Volume 9, Issue 3 (March 2012)
Historical Survey on Ecolabeling Efforts and Criteria for Green Inert or Other Ingredients: EPA Design for the Environment
In addition to the active ingredient, pesticide formulations typically contain surfactants, solvents, diluents, fillers, adjuvant substances, and utility additives such as foam control agents. Over the past several decades, innovations in pesticide formulation have yielded accelerated evolution toward reduced environmental impact and improved sustainability. These provide the key benefits of what are considered “greener” formulations. An example of how this approach manifests in the marketplace is end product ecolabeling as practiced in the consumer products industry. A review of a 2010 global survey of certifying organizations is included in order to provide perspective on how criteria and standards can vary. The range of materials available that might offer either or both the desired reductions in environmental impact and/or improved sustainability varies based on the definition of “green” applied. Important aspects to consider include selecting a definition, deciding which ingredients to use, screening replacements for non-green or less green ingredients, and measuring performance against appropriate benchmarks. Various criteria can be applied in order to define targets for “greener” inert ingredients. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for Environment program (DfE) focuses on individual ingredients in addition to formulations. For materials offering similar performance, the underlying chemical, toxicological, or environmental data affect selection. DfE utilizes a third-party ingredient review system (by National Sanitation Foundation [NSF] International and ToxServices) and database (CleanGredients, as managed by GreenBlue) that can provide a basis on which to select materials for evaluation and development as part of formulating safer pesticides with reduced environmental impact and greater sustainability.