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Environment Thought Leadership


Driving Performance in Green Building Products - NEW!

In just a few short years, the use of environmentally preferable products and materials has become an essential element in the development and construction of new commercial and residential building projects. However, questions remain among manufacturers and buyers about just how to evaluate and compare the lifecycle-based environmental profiles of similar building products and materials. Various mechanisms, from eco-labels and environmental product certifications to lifecycle assessments (LCAs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs), are available and act as an important part of a larger “toolkit.” This UL white paper provides an overview of the various ways in which building product manufacturers can demonstrate compliance with green building certification programs and codes, and how to best utilize each available mechanism in this toolkit.

Click here to download the full technical white paper.




Chemicals in Children’s Toys: Addressing Stricter Limits and Environmental Concerns

The safety of children’s toys has been regulated in the United States and the European Union (EU) for decades. Current regulations and standards in the U.S. already address the physical hazards traditionally associated with the use of toys, including sharp edges, small parts, strangulation, shock, and entrapment. However, except for limits on lead and phthalates mandated under the CPSIA, there has been scant attention given to chemicals and other substances for which stated limits do not yet exist. UL has introduced a new voluntary leadership standard that addresses the use of chemicals in children’s toys. Harmonized with the requirements of the European Union’s Directive on the Safety of Toys (2009/48/EC), UL 172, the Standard for Sustainability of Toys, will support manufacturers’ efforts to design and develop toys that reduce children’s exposure to certain chemicals. The new standard will also offer guidance on the socially and environmentally responsible production of toys.

This UL white paper begins with a brief overview of the U.S. toy industry and the unique issues associated with children’s exposure to chemicals in toys. The paper then reviews the current regulatory requirements applicable to chemicals in children’s toys, and discusses the key aspects of UL 172. The white paper concludes with a summary of compliance issues for manufacturers.

Click here to download the full technical white paper.




How New Phone Technology Affects the Environment

In just 30 years, mobile telephony has grown into a major global industry, with an estimated 5 billion users around the world (compared with a total world population of just under 7 billion people).  As a result of ever-advancing technology and product obsolescence in this market, it is estimated that some 300,000 mobile phones are sent to the trash every day in the United States alone.

This white paper examines the overall environmental impact of materials used in mobile phones, from the extraction of raw materials and component manufacturing required to produce the latest models, to the appropriate recovery and recycling of these products at end-of-life. While the scope of this paper is limited to mobile phones, similar materials are used in many other high technology products, including personal computers, portable entertainment players, and other types of information and communications devices. Energy consumption and radio frequency emissions at the product level are outside the scope of this paper.

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Interpreting Pre-Consumer Recycled Content Claims: Philosophy and Guidance on Environmental Claims for Pre-Consumer Recycled Materials

There is a great deal of debate within the environmental and manufacturing communities about which materials can be claimed as pre-consumer recycled content. UL Environment encourages an end to this debate and has developed this document to provide clarity on interpreting existing guidelines to validate claims of pre-consumer recycled content and to serve as a reference for manufacturers.

Click here to download the full industry report.






Transparency and the Role of Environmental Product Declarations - NEW!

As the world’s consumption of natural resources continues to grow at an ever increasing rate, the design and manufacture of environmentally responsible products is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Producers are giving increased attention to the environmental impact of their products across the entire product life cycle, including design and manufacturing through actual use to end-of-life. Such efforts from producers are now leading towards the collection and compilation of relevant environmental data. This data helps identify opportunities for improvement along the supply chain, often taking the form of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). However, there are many ways to distribute this data.

An environmental product declaration (EPD) is a validation tool that offers manufacturers a standard approach for assessing the environmental impact of their products and provides buyers with an effective framework for making direct product comparisons. As such, an EPD addresses the needs of both manufacturers and buyers seeking clear, credible and precise information.

This UL white paper discusses the use and importance of EPDs in the validation and certification of life cycle-based product environmental impacts. The paper then reviews the steps in creating EPDs consistent with the requirements of ISO 14025 2006, Environmental labels and declarations—Type III environmental declarations—Principles and procedures, and discusses the important role of an EPD program operator in developing and running an effective EPD program. The report concludes with a look at potential developments regarding the use of EPDs in support of product environmental claims.

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