EPA Proposes Updates to Strengthen the Safer Choice Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced proposed updates to the Safer Choice Standard, which identifies the requirements that products and their ingredients must meet to earn EPA's Safer Choice label or Design for the Environment (DfE) logo. The Agency is requesting public comments on the proposed updates by Jan. 16, 2024, and will hold a webinar on Dec. 19, 2023, to provide information on proposed updates to the Standard.

The Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings, find cleaners, detergents, and other products made with chemical ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment. Similarly, the DfE program helps people find disinfectants that meet high standards for human health and the environment.

“The Safer Choice program continues to encourage safer and greener chemistry in the marketplace to safeguard human health and protect the environment,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer. “These proposed updates to the Safer Choice Standard will increase transparency, safety, and sustainability in consumer and commercial products.”

EPA’s proposed updates to the Standard include:

  • New certification for cleaning service providers that use Safer Choice- and DfE-certified products to help protect workers that use cleaning products all day as well as the people who live or work in the spaces they clean.
  • Strengthening sustainable packaging requirements in response to consumer demand and innovations in packaging materials and technologies.
  • Expanded criteria specific to pet care products to ensure such products use only the safest possible ingredients for both humans and pets.
  • Clarifying language on EPA’s process for entering product classes and exiting those that pose unexpected risks despite safer chemistry.
  • Clarifying language regarding the use of data from New Approach Methodologies during Safer Choice chemical review.
  • New, optional energy efficiency or use reduction criteria to encourage companies to reduce water use and carbon-based energy consumption.
  • Updated criteria for wipe products to help reduce damage to wastewater treatment systems.
  • Potential creation of a new alternate logo, similar to the Fragrance-Free logo, to distinguish products used outdoors that meet additional EPA criteria for environmental safety.

EPA periodically updates the Standard to keep current with the state of scientific and technological innovation; increase transparency and reduce redundancy; and expand the scope of the program as appropriate. This will be EPA’s fourth update of the Standard since its inception in 2009, and the first since 2015.

On Dec. 19, 2023, 2-3 p.m. ET, EPA will hold a webinar to provide further information on the proposed updates to the Standard. The webinar may be of interest to stakeholders interested in commenting on the updates, including manufacturers and distributors, retailers, community groups and representatives from states, Tribal Nations, non-profit organizations, trade associations, and others. Register here for the webinar.

Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, comments should be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-0520 on Regulations.gov by Jan. 16, 2024.

EPA will use the written comments to guide updates to the Standard.

Safer Choice

Safer Choice encourages chemistry that meets EPA’s stringent criteria for human health and the environment and provides opportunities for companies to differentiate their products in the marketplace with the Safer Choice label. With thousands of certified products, the Safer Choice label is a reliable way for people to find products whose chemical ingredients have met EPA’s criteria for being safer without sacrificing performance. Visit the Safer Choice program website for more information.

Design for the Environment

Similar to the Safer Choice label, EPA’s DfE logo helps people identify antimicrobial products like disinfectants that meet the health and safety standards of the normal pesticide registration process required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act as well as meeting the DfE certification criteria (as described in the Safer Choice Standard). When a person sees EPA’s DfE logo on a product, they can feel confident that the product performs and meets stringent EPA criteria for human health and the environment. Visit the Design for the Environment website for more information.