Environmental Protection

ANSI Offers Report of Product Standards Workshop

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has released a workshop report on the findings of its April event, "Toward Product Standards for Sustainability."

Organized by ANSI with the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the workshop brought together a broad range of experts and advocates to share insights and develop recommendations on standards and criteria for sustainable products. More than 240 in-person participants and 100 more via a live Webinar attended the April 8-9 meeting, representing government, industry, standards developing organizations (SDOs), consortia, and consumers.

"More than ever, Americans are shopping with sustainability in mind," explained S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and chief executive officer. "But when concepts like 'green' and 'socially responsible' can mean different things from one product to the next, consumers become confused and frustrated. By collaborating across sectors and building consensus through a partnership between government and industry, we will help establish uniform technical requirements, methods, processes, and practices that address sustainability for products on store shelves nationwide."

The report begins with an overview of the workshop and offers a primer of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system. It then details the discussions and findings of the workshop, which centered on three focused panels, a keynote address, and breakout sessions for more in-depth dialogue among attendees. The document also includes a list of participants and captures the full results of all breakout sessions, which were conducted in small groups of up to 10 attendees and individually for Webinar participants.

Over the course of the two-day workshop, participants reached a number of key conclusions and offered several take-away messages for further consideration, including:

  • Consistent and globally accepted terminology tops the list of needs. Until there is consensus, terms like "attribute" and "certification" may be interpreted differently by consumers, standards developers, government, and industry.
  • Standards should be clearly written so they can be effectively used for reliable certification. The marketplace needs claims that can be substantiated so consumers can reward good performance with their purchasing power.
  • An overarching body should coordinate and guide the process going forward with input from the public and private sectors.
The full set of conclusions reached at the workshop is available in the report, and presentations given during the event are available online at www.ansiposts.ansi.org.

To view ANSI's report, go to Toward Product Standards for Sustainability.

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