Ah, if only it were possible to be a fly-on-the-wall in every committee for every standard... I know this is a fantasy only a standards-geek could have, and is one of those fantasies you don't really want to actualize, but there's no doubt much of the real work defining the rules of the game is done in committee meetings that most of us never hear about.
In their last meeting, with little fanfare, the NSF-140 committee
approved a simple change that greenwash-fighters should approve of, while finding the need for it unfortunate.
The language in the standard was changed to say, "A certified and non-certified product cannot have the same trade name designation."
What this means is that a company can't get, for example, NSF-140 Platinum on select options
for a product line, and then go and market the main product line
as NSF-140 Platinum. Apparently, this issue was brought to the table because one company was doing just that — marketing the product line as NSF-140 Platinum despite the fact that the platinum prerequisite of 10% post-consumer recycled material was only met with special order options. The discrepancy is being fixed by the company — as is the standard by NSF.
The NSF-140 committee also removed a durability test that required 350 parts per million of fluorocarbons for stain resistance (after debating the counter-intuitive rationale for including a test in a sustainability standard that requires addition of an environmentally problematic substance). They also required less persistent C6 instead of C8 fluorocarbons; a change that suppliers are apparently making proactively given growing concern over the potential environmental and health impacts of fluorocarbons.
None of this is final — there is more discussion to come and then at some point the decisions will be folded into the next version. But in general, I'd call all of this a good story of self-correction by the industry. When competitors police each other's greenwash and have animated discussions on proving durability without compromising other aspects of sustainability, we're starting to get somewhere — recognizing of course, that we still have a long way to go.
From EBN: Making Carpet Environmentally Friendly and more