Regulation Round-Up: Green Chemistry & Consumer Product Regulations (State level)

Background: At the forefront of the Green Chemistry movement, California introduced its Green Chemistry Initiative in 2008 with the stated goal of removing, reducing, or replacing potentially harmful chemicals in consumer products. The initiative encourages Green Chemistry practitioners to design new products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances: 1) when companies manufacture the products; 2) when consumers use the products; and 3) when the products and packaging are disposed of.  Several other states, Maine (Chemicals of Concern List), Washington (Children’s Safe Product Act) and Minnesota (Toxic Free Kids Act) to name just a few have also introduced consumer product legislation as well, although the scope of their regulations are not as broad and far reaching as California’s proposed legislation.

Geography: Various U.S. States – California, Maine, Washington, Minnesota

Dates: With the change in California’s governor, the proposed regulations are now set to be reviewed and amended by a “Green Ribbon Science Panel” before taking effect, so it is not clear when this regulation will be enacted.  Most recently, California extended its comment period for the proposed regulations through October 11, 2012.  Maine published a list of chemicals of concern in September of 2011. In Washington the first reports from manufacturer’s of products that contain chemical(s) listed on the Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children are due by the end of August 2012.  Minnesota published both a list of chemicals of high concern and list of priority chemicals in January 2011.

Business Considerations:  The California market represents the world’s seventh largest economy, all manufacturers (not just chemical producers!) and retailers can expect to face significant new challenges in dealing with California. In October of 2011, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released its most updated version of proposed regulations. These consist of requirements for: 1) the prioritization of chemicals and products of high concern, 2) requirements for an alternatives assessment process, and 3) regulatory options for DTSC to exercise based on its review of such assessments, which may require a manufacture to reformulate a product or stop its sale in California. The law enacted in 2008 was intended to lay the foundation of the overall initiative, leaving most of the details to future regulations by the California DTSC.  With all of the various lists and initiatives for different markets it is becoming more important to have up to date information in these various regulations as well as a partner to help you track and identify materials of concern upfront and determine the overall risk to your organization.