Making the decision to choose greener products is something we can all do to help minimize our impact on the environment. While the use of disinfectants has increased exponentially over the last 12 months with COVID and the pandemic, choosing a safer, greener product can have a big impact, not only on the health of the planet, but also on our own health.
BUT how do we find a disinfectant that is green or environmentally friendly? After all, disinfectants by nature are designed to kill. How can they be created to kill germs AND still be environmentally friendly?
Well, that all comes down to tradeoffs.
Every day in life we make choices - or trade-offs - that impact our lives negatively or positively. We are often weighing risks vs benefits. Tradeoffs are sometimes referred to as opportunity costs. We might choose to take a day off to rebalance and refresh our minds, take advantage of a beautiful, but we are trading off potential lost sales (as a business owner), lost vacation time or wages (as an employee).
When we are choosing products for infection prevention and control, we are often doing the same. Some of the common ones we see are:
Disinfectants - SAFETY vs EFFICACY
Face Masks - FASHION vs PROTECTION
Hand Sanitizers - COST vs QUALITY
We are passionate at TB Clift to help support, educate, and inform all thing infection prevention and control.
Because we truly believe in our values of Health Caring. Health Caring to us means supporting our Canadian communities through helping to clear away the haze of misinformation that exists around infection prevention and control products.
By creating a safe community and space to have open conversations about common questions, myths, and misconceptions that exist through discussions, education, science, and facts.
Not only do we stand behind the products we source, but we stand behind our commitment to help, to ask questions, to validate, and to support our community.
So how does that relate to disinfectants and choosing a product that is not only better for you, better for your infection prevention and control program, AND the environment?
Well... as we know, not all disinfectants are created equally. Some are formulated for contact time, some for pathogens, and some for safety. When it comes to choosing the best disinfectant for your facility, understanding your specific needs will help you choose the best product for the job. Let's dig in a little deeper.
There are several key areas to consider when choosing the best disinfectant for your infection prevention and control program. They are:
Surface Coverage & Wetability (ability to stay wet on a surface)
Ease of Use
Today we are going to be focusing on the environmental profile of disinfectants and what that means for your facility as it relates to disinfection compliance, PPE, health and safety concerns for patients, clients, staff, and yourself.
"Green" Disinfectants... Do they actually exist???
YES! In 2012, EcoLogo approved the first Green Certified Disinfectants.
"ECOLOGO® Certified products, services and packaging are certified for reduced environmental impact. ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary, multiattribute, life cycle-based environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental performance standards.
These standards set metrics for a wide variety of criteria in some or all of the following categories: materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance and use, and product stewardship and innovation."
This was a huge accomplishment to help create better, more environmentally friendly products for infection prevention.
Why is choosing a product with a credible third party green certification important?
It helps us minimize the impact of cleaners and disinfectants on the environment. Products that are Certified have been developed specifically for reduced environmental impact.
For example, ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary, multi-attribute, lifecycle based environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing, or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental performance standards.
This is important because as greener, more sustainable, and more environmentally friendly cleaners and disinfectants were demanded by consumers, some companies worked hard to develop better products, while some took a more questionable approach by claiming their products were "green" when in fact they were not.
The truth about greenwashing...
Greenwashing is the practice of making false green certified claims. According to UL, "Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service."
This can make it challenging for consumer who want to choose products that are better for the environment. How do avoid products that us greenwashing? Here are a few tips.
Ask for proof. Look into claims or certifications to validate they are in fact credible.
Do your research. Sometimes products claim to be "green" based on a single attribute or ingredient, however the product as a whole is not environmentally favourable.
Ask questions. Sometimes products will use vague marketing claims "chemical free" or "all natural ingredients". Challenge companies to be more specific and provide proof.
If a disinfectant is green, does that mean it is less effective against germs and pathogens?
The answer? It depends.
Remember our previous discussion on tradeoffs? Well, with some disinfectants companies may have had to tradeoff the efficacy of the product (perhaps longer contact times or its ability to kill harder to kill germs) to achieve green certifications and be more environmentally sustainable.
However, some companies have been able to successfully formulate disinfectants that are not only safer for the environments but still kill hard to kill pathogens AND in quick and realistic contact times (remember it has to be wet to disinfect! Check out our previous blog on disinfectant contact time if you want to read more).
New innovations and technologies have transformed the disinfectant market over the past 20+ years, challenging what used to be the status quo, resulting in disinfectants that no longer require a tradeoff of safety for efficacy, both for you and the environment.
So How Do I Choose a Greener Disinfectant?
We wanted to make your selection process a little easier. So we put together a green disinfectant checklist to help you pick the right disinfectant for your needs.
Look for products that have credible, validated green claims like EcoLogo.
Read the label and understand if the product is effective against the pathogens YOU are concerned about
Check to see if there are any signal works like - Danger. These words are used to indicate the product's hazards.
Check to make sure the product is fragrance free
Check to make sure the product is dye free
Check to make sure the the product does not have an overwhelming chemical odor (think bleach)
Check the ingredients with the list below to see if the product contains any ingredients of concern that may have a negative impact on human or environmental health.
Quick List of Ingredients to avoid:
As per the EPA, the following ingredients are best to avoid if you cannot validate your products green certification. The following ingredients can be harmful to your health or the environment. (Source)
2-butoxyethanol (or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether) and other glycol ethers
Alkylphenol ethoxylates (some common ones: nonylphenol and octylphenol ethoxylates, octoxynols)
Dyes (may be listed as FD&C or D&C)
Ethanolamines (common ones to look out for: monoethanolamine [MEA], diethanolamine [DEA], triethanolamine [TEA])
Pine or citrus oil
Quaternary ammonium compounds Look out for these:
alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC), benzalkonium chloride, dodecyl-dimethyl-benzyl ammonium chloride
lauryl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
didecyl and didecyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride
Why We choose Accel Accel Prevention Disinfectants
We pride ourselves on providing high quality and effective products to all our customers and partners - from healthcare to small businesses.
Working in hospitals and with our trusted healthcare partners we KNOW firsthand how an ineffective product can put people at risk. That is why all our products are carefully selected and we work with the manufactures to ensure that they not only are the best performing products, but they provide proof that the products do what they say they are going to do.
We also strive to support Canadian partners as much as possible. For us, the disinfectant manufacturer we choose was a no brainer - Virox Technologies Inc. Virox is a Canadian company (Oakville, Ontario) that developed, manufactures, and supports Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide disinfectants. They are sold globally and Accel Disinfectants were used in the fight against SARS back in 2002 by Canadian hospitals across the country.
AHP® and Accel are recognized as a safer and environmentally preferred disinfectant technology. Hydrogen peroxide (the active ingredient) breaks down into water and oxygen. The other ingredients that make up the patented AHP® formulations all recognized as safe inert ingredients. AHP® disinfectants do not require the use of PPE at in-use solutions.
Accel Prevention RTU and Wipes have a 3 minutes contact time and both have been approved as hard-surface disinfectants on the Government of Canada's List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19. The Accel Prevention formulations have been approved by UL as a green disinfectant for its superior environmental profile.
DID YOU KNOW???
In 2007 AHP® became the FIRST disinfectant technology to receive EcoLogo approval in Canada as a green certified disinfectant cleaner. AHP® continues to push boundaries and revolutionize the disinfectant space with cleaner, faster, safer, greener disinfectants.