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Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative
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The U.S. EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) Program developed the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) to recognize environmental leaders who voluntarily commit to the use of safer surfactants. ISSA supports SDSI as a voluntary program that provides positive public recognition to businesses that seek to “green” their products and services. The recognition provided by DfE under SDSI will serve as a strong incentive for companies to transition to products with surfactants that have a preferred environmental profile.

What is the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative?

Through SDSI, DfE will recognize environmental leaders who voluntarily commit to the use of safer surfactants. Safer surfactants are surfactants that break down quickly to non-polluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water.

An example of a class of safer surfactants is linear alcohol ethoxylates (LAE). LAEs are toxic to aquatic life, but break down quickly to non-polluting compounds. On the other hand, nonylphenol ethoxylates, commonly referred to as NPEs, are a surfactant class that does not meet the definition of a safer surfactant. Both NPEs and their breakdown products, such as nonylphenol, are toxic to aquatic life.

DfE has identified safer alternative surfactants through partnerships with industry and environmental advocates. These safer alternatives are comparable in cost and are readily available. CleanGredients™ is a source of safer surfactants and can be found at

A one-page fact sheet on SDSI (PDF) is available online.

Who is Eligible for Recognition?

EPA's DfE Program will recognize businesses engaged in the production or use of surfactants (such as formulators), as well as those involved in the purchase, use or distribution of products containing surfactants (i.e., contract cleaners and distributors). Others, including non-profit organizations may qualify through actively encouraging the use of safer surfactants.

What is the Recognition?

There are two categories for recognition under SDSI: Champion and Partner. Champion is the highest level of recognition offered under SDSI. At this level, the participant is invited to an awards ceremony, is listed on the EPA SDSI Web site as a Champion, and may use a special logo in their literature to help explain their participation in the program.

The Partner category provides recognition of significant accomplishment towards the use of safer surfactants. Partners will be listed on the EPA SDSI Web site and may be granted recognition as Champions in the future.

How do I Apply for Recognition?

An application for recognition (PDF) is available for download. The application includes the criteria for Champion and Partner status. Applications must be submitted no later than June 20, 2008. Awards will be presented in late 2008 in Washington, DC. If you would like more information, please contact David Difiore (