A Green Merit Badge For Manufacturers

America's manufacturers are increasingly embracing a set of international standards, dubbed ISO 9000, that encourage excellence in everything from design to quality control. Now, the International Standards Organization, which created ISO 9000, is working on new standards to promote environmentally sound manufacturing and products. Some experts believe these new standards may prove more important than ISO 9000--and could give U.S. companies a leg up.

The initiative, explains John Donaldson, chief of standards code and information at the National Institute of Standards & Technology, "grew out of industry's recognition that environmentalists carry weight." In response to interest from business prior to last year's Rio de Janeiro environmental summit, ISO set up a committee to hammer out principles of environmental management. Companies that meet the standards will be able to label their products as "environmentally sound"--a potentially valuable marketing tool. Since U.S. companies already meet tougher environmental regulations than most foreign rivals, speculates Donaldson, "such standards may give them a competitive advantage."

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.