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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Charter for Sustainable Cleaning?

The Charter for Sustainable Cleaning ("Charter"), an initiative of the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI), is a common, voluntary approach of the cleaning products industry to promote and demonstrate continual improvement in the industry’s sustainability profile. The Charter is designed to go beyond basic legal requirements and provides a framework for driving the industry toward common sustainability goals.

Why did ACI develop the Charter?

Built upon previous ACI voluntary sustainability initiatives, the ACI Charter, was developed to establish a proactive initiative for moving sustainability forward. The Charter provides a framework for companies to establish sustainable practices within their business and drive best practices related to sustainable management across the industry. The Charter also provides a united front where companies can take on the most difficult sustainability challenges together as an industry, resulting in a substantially increased impact.

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Why should companies commit themselves to the Charter?

The Charter, which is designed to go beyond basic legal requirements, provides a framework for driving the industry toward common sustainability goals. It requires companies to have systems in place for continual assessment, review, and improvement of sustainability performance, including raw material selection, resource use, and occupational health and safety, at every important stage of the product lifecycle.

By participating in the Charter, companies will have a means of demonstrating their commitment to continuous improvement of key aspects of sustainability relative to the cleaning product supply chain. Doing regular assessments and reviews, and ensuring proper information handling and training, should stimulate and bring about improvement. The improvements can occur at all stages of the product lifecycle, from product specification through manufacturing, to end-use and disposal of products and packaging.

ACI also reports on the aggregated performance of the industry allowing a company to benchmark themselves against the rest of the industry.

How does the Charter go beyond legal requirements?

There are legal requirements at all stages of the product lifecycle, from raw material extraction through manufacturing, to end-use and disposal of products and packaging that companies must adhere to. However, legal requirements for companies to use sustainability best practices during any of these stages do not currently exist. The Charter for Sustainable Cleaning is a voluntary program where companies can commit to practices not required by law but considered to be better ways to conduct business and leave a smaller footprint on the world. For example the Charter requires companies to set internal targets for improving the company’s sustainability performance and consider lifecycle impacts of the ingredients and packaging materials when creating products, neither practices are currently required by law.

How does the ACI Charter compare to The A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning?

The A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning is a voluntary initiative of the European soaps, detergents and maintenance products industry. The aim is to encourage the whole industry to undertake continual improvement in terms of sustainability and also to encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable ways of doing their washing, cleaning and household maintenance. The ACI Charter for Sustainable Cleaning is inspired by the A.I.S.E Charter for Sustainable Cleaning.

The concepts and best practices found within the two programs are similar. But the programs have two distinct differences. 1) The ACI Charter is applicable to companies across the cleaning product supply chain, from raw material and ingredient suppliers, to cleaning product formulators or brand owners, while the A.I.S.E Charter is focused on activities of cleaning product formulators. 2) The ACI Charter does not provide criteria for product level assessments, while the A.I.S.E. program does.

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What is Responsible Care?

Responsible Care® is a voluntary initiative of the global chemical industry to safely handle products from inception in the research laboratory, through manufacture and distribution, to ultimate reuse, recycle and disposal, and to involve the public in our decision-making processes. Born in Canada in 1987, Responsible Care is being implemented by chemical producers in 53 countries. The Responsible Care Guiding Principles are at the heart of the Responsible Care commitment—through these principles, members and Partners pledge to improve EHS&S performance for facilities, processes and products throughout the entire operating system.

Did ACI consult any stakeholders prior to launching this initiative?

The member companies of ACI have been engaged with the development of the program from its inception and have provided guidance along the way. ACI also informally consulted a number of non-industry stakeholders, as well as sustainability experts in other industries, for advice. With the requirements of the Charter being made public, ACI hopes to engage in a dialogue with interested stakeholders as the program evolves, including ways to formally engage stakeholders in our sustainability programs.

Is there independent verification of the implementation of the Sustainably Practices and Activities (SPAs) by each participating company?

The Charter is currently managed by ACI and companies who join the Charter are required to self-report their progress toward addressing the Essential SPAs on an annual basis. Companies are required to meet all applicable criteria prior to being recognized as a Member of the Charter and on an annual basis in order to maintain good standing in the program. At this time the ACI Charter does not include a verification system. As the Charter develops we intend to explore verification approaches.

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What are "Additional" SPAs and how do they relate to the Charter requirements?

The Charter includes a set of "Additional" SPAs which are sustainability procedures and activities that are not mandatory for Charter membership. It is recommend Charter companies also work toward implementing these criteria as they will be phased into the Charter requirement over time.