The Environmental Working Group Verified "Free From"
The Environmental Working Group or EWG provides verification to companies, meeting strict criteria, to confirm the products are safe for consumers to use. The process of applying for the verification is not overly arduous, but it is fundamental that all the required documents are available before the process is commenced. Most companies receive a response within a couple of months. Once the verification process is complete, companies can use the EWG mark on their packaging, which provides the consumer with instant information regarding product safety.
Company Offering Certification
- EWG is the company offering this verification. The company is committed to protecting both the environment and human health.
- Research conducted by EWG is used to empower and educate consumers to make informed decisions regarding the companies they support and the products they use. Through ongoing pressure, EWG is forcing companies to use only safe ingredients in products and adopt environmentally appropriate business practices.
- "EWG Verified" is a health and wellness gold standard. The mark enables consumers to quickly and easily identify safe products. The benefit of the mark is the instant feedback that is immediately available to consumers.
- A company can make an application to EWG to use the mark on its products. The process to be followed when making the application is available on the EWG website.
- The first step in the process involves reading and becoming familiar with the relevant criteria. Three criteria must be read and understood. These include the full criteria for personal care products, the unacceptable use for personal care products, and the restricted list for personal care products.
- Once familiar with these documents, the next step involves downloading and reviewing the application documents. These documents include a disclosure agreement and a product ingredient spreadsheet.
- The disclosure agreement gives EWG the right to test the products to ensure they met the standards required to have the mark on them. It indemnifies EWG should unexpected ingredients be discovered.
- The spreadsheet needs to be filled in accurately by the applicant. The information required includes barcode, product name, labeled instructions, labeled ingredients, labeled warnings, other labeled text, URL for product images for the EWG website, file names of images, and fragrance ingredients.
- Once these steps have been completed, the applicant needs to download and complete the application. It is relatively straightforward. Details of the applicant and the product seeking to use the mark are required.
- Once completed, the application form and a PDF file of the product labels need to be uploaded. The application fee of $500 (non-refundable) needs to be submitted to EWG.
- EWG provides an update in respect of progress or additional steps to be completed within 2-4 weeks. Should the product be eligible for the verification, additional documents proving compliance with the applicable restrictions, will need to be completed.
- It will take between 4-6 weeks for a decision to be made after all documents are submitted. The product will either be eligible for licensing by EWG, or there will be a request for further documentation,
- A master affidavit is provided once a product is approved. The affidavit is the final confirmation that the product fits within all the guidelines and rules. It needs to be completed. EWG will arrange training on how to use the mark for the applicant at this time.
- An extensive list of brands that have been approved to use the EWG mark is provided on the website.
- These brands include Ourito, Divine, Freedom, Brown Lab, 7minerals, Nena, Natracare, Attitude, and Silk.
- MyCelle Dermaceticals was one of the founding companies certified to use the mark. They consciously sourced ingredients to ensure they complied with the strict rules imposed by EWG.
- Beauty Counter is the other founding member. They considered early participation in the EWG program as being fundamental in illustrating who they were and what the company stood for. They have adopted rigorous processes to ensure their products continue to comply with the regulations.
- In 2017 Walmart instigated a push to encourage companies selling personal care products to obtain EWG verification. This was part of a larger Walmart sustainability initiative.
- The Divine Company was verified in 2018 and is very proud of this. A certified product is displayed prominently on their homepage, along with a detailed explanation of why verification was important to them. They reaffirm their commitment to the EWG principles and encourage other organizations to verify their own products.
- Zevo Products include a range of sprays that are designed to kill bugs and insects, not people or pets.
- The EWG mark is designed especially for Personal Care and Cleaning Products at the current time. It would appear unlikely given the purpose of the Zevo products that they would be eligible to apply for EWG verification.
Initially, we reviewed the information available on the EWG website to obtain a better understanding of both the EWG company and the verification. There was a significant amount of precompiled information that comprehensive explained the relevance of the verification. The website also contained detailed information about EWG the company.
We reviewed the application process, which is clearly outlined on the EWG website, and the documents that need to be provided by the applicant. While there is a reasonable amount of reading initially, the documents are clear and easy to follow. The last thing we looked at was the time frame of the application from start to finish. This information was easily located with information around the application process.
To find examples of companies that had applied for EWG verification, we reviewed the customer list on the company website. We also read two of the highlighted case studies. To obtain a complete picture, we visited the website of one of the companies to determine the impact verification had on that company.
The last thing we considered was Zevo and its products. We reviewed the Zevo website, so we were familiar with them. It became apparent almost immediately, based on the type of product they produce and its purpose, that they would not meet the criteria for EWG verification.