To help consumers find products that have demonstrated their green commitment, the Water Quality Association (WQA) launched its Sustainability Mark this month. It is the first certification of its kind in the industry.
Products earn the mark only after they have proven that the best practices for environmental sustainability have been used in their creation. Rigorous examination is required to audit and assess the manufacturers according to independent standards, developed by a WQA lead task force consisting of environmental experts, consultants, regulators, manufacturers, industry professionals and other stakeholders.
Ten companies already applied for certification and dozens more are looking into it. The first products displaying the Sustainability Mark are expected to appear for consumers by the end of this year.
Evaluation and auditing is conducted by WQA, a nonprofit trade group that raises industry standards through the use of respected guidelines developed by highly regarded outside agencies.
In addition to the Sustainability Mark, WQA offers other performance based certifications under its Gold Seal program. The Gold Seal is designed to help consumers choose products that are effective.
WQA provides seals of approval on a variety of drinking water treatment products. They are awarded only after thorough laboratory tests, literature review and materials assessment. WQA's product certification program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute.
The association also trains professionals in the field to make sure they are providing consumers with ethical service that fits their needs. To be certified, professionals go through series of classes and specialized training and pledge to abide by a strict code of behavior. Those certified must show a required level of knowledge of water chemistry and treatment technologies and commit to continuing education.
"The last drop of water arrived on Earth 4.4 billion years ago, and now it is up to us to make sure what we drink is as safe and healthy as possible," said Haataja. "We don't make new water, but we can treat the water we have."
The Sustainability Mark will first focus on suppliers of activated carbon, as well as filtration products that utilize activated carbon. Efforts are underway to add additional product categories for certification, such as reverse osmosis, UV purifiers, distillers, plumbing products, and chemical additives.