More than 90 percent of the household cleaning products sales at Whole Foods Market pass muster under the company’s Eco-Scale rating system, a year after the launch of the program, which requires full ingredient disclosure on these products’ labels.
Whole Foods Market now sells more than 275 Eco-Scale-rated products from Better Life, Ecover, Greenshield, Dr. Bronner’s, Biokleen, Earth Friendly, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Naturally Its Clean and Method, as well as the retailer’s own Green Mission, Whole Foods Market and 365 Everyday Value brands.
Whole Foods requires all household-cleaning products to be evaluated and audited to its own standards by an independent third-party certifier before they are rated and the labels placed on shelves. Products are rated red, orange, yellow or green according to the specific set of environmental and sourcing standards each product meets.
To make the cut, each cleaning product must meet – at minimum – Eco-Scale’s baseline (orange) standard. In addition to requiring full ingredient listings, the orange standard prohibits intentionally added ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns, such as chlorine, phosphates or formaldehyde donors, as well as synthetic colors and thickeners. Yellow-rated products meet even higher standards, with green-labeled products topping the tiers. Red-rated products are not sold at Whole Foods.
While nearly all of the retailer’s household cleaning products have already been Eco-Scale rated, new product labels will be trickling onto shelves over the next six months as suppliers switch to new packaging. By not mandating that suppliers re-package products immediately after certification, Whole Foods Market says its helping suppliers work through current inventory, keeping hundreds of pounds of plastic and other packaging materials from going to waste. During the transition, shoppers can look to suppliers’ websites for full ingredient listings.
According to a 2011 Harris Interactive survey conducted for Whole Foods Market, 73 percent of consumers mistakenly believe that the US government requires household cleaning suppliers to list all ingredients on product packaging.
In early 2012 SC Johnson began listing all ingredients contained in its products on its website, along with links to other sites containing ingredient information and educational materials.
In 2011, Clorox became the first company in its industry to disclose preservatives and dyes in all US and Canadian cleaning, disinfecting and laundry products. A year earlier, the company launched a website detailing ingredients for more than 230 cleaning, disinfecting and auto care products.