Posts Tagged ‘California Green Chemistry Initiative’

Nice summary of the state of the California Green Chemistry Initiative:

The Recorder: CA Green Chemistry Law Has Lawyers, Industry on Alert

Hard to believe California can manage this mess without years of litigation.  This isn’t just putting as label on that customers will ignore like Prop 65 (although it has caused a lot of substitution activity and its share of NGO lawsuits against companies).  It will mean a load of company work looking for the “right” alternatives based on moving target analyses and potential mischief for government blacklisting of companies and their products.  Not to mention that California is broke and doesn’t have the wherewithal to pay bureaucrats to do the reviews required.  A source of exorbitant fees to pay down state debt?

Maybe the state will move slowly on just a couple chemicals of concern and a couple of products to test it out and create a worthwhile process that helps push companies to do better product design.  I just hope it doesn’t become a very expensive, pointless game.


If you are interested in how to move forward with product stewardship, that includes meeting or avoiding regulatory challenges like Cal Green Chemistry, contact EHS Strategies, Inc.

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California listened to some of the public comments on their proposed Safer Consumer Product Alternatives regulation (see earlier blog) and simplified it some.  Details can be found here, with 15 days to get in comments.

Jumping through the hoops of Chemicals and Products Under Consideration and preparing a Tier I Alternatives Assessment are gone. Now it will just be proposed and final Chemicals of Concern and Priority Products.  Notification that a Chemical of Concern is in a consumer product also will have less confidential business information.  But there will still be a boatload of work to do Alternatives Assessments on Priority Products.

At least it looks like I can send my sibs Christmas presents as the regulation will fall on manufacturers and retailers and not distributors.  And they clarify that its just consumer products they are worried about not everything. Uh huh.

But DTSC is nervous over the 10’s of thousands of products that are going to potentially be on their hit list for review.

Sigh….shouldn’t the state be worried about avoiding bankruptcy rather than setting up overwhelming bureaucracy?

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California continues to forge ahead with a new complicated regulation intended to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in products and ensure that alternatives are safer: Safer Consumer Products Alternatives Proposal

First, it’s still misnamed.  It’s not just consumer products, it’s every product that ever was or will be in the state, except for industrial intermediates and R&D.  Looks like exports of Christmas presents to my siblings are still at risk (see previous post: http://wp.me/pzzO5-5a).

Basically, the proposal would allow DTSC to bring product commerce to a halt or, rather, to take over production decisions as they guide companies through the approval process for what chemicals can be in products.  Mostly that’s only for products that show up on the “Products Containing Priority Chemicals” list. Those priority products will trigger mandatory full-blown, professionally produced life cycle assessments of both the existing product and any alternative chemicals to be substituted.  And there must be a plan to find safer alternatives, along with regulations to ensure life cycle management until the alternative is in place.  But wait, that’s comes only after a few other hoops:

Listing “Chemicals Under Consideration” come first.  These will be chemicals that have any shape or form of physical, chemical, toxicity or ecotoxicity properties anyone has ever  thought of (I exaggerate – I don’t see “color” on the list, but the list is only illustrative).  DTSC also “may” consider the factors related to the extent of exposure.  Presumably, DTSC will be coming up with its own chemical list, but the agency also has to respond to petitions to add chemicals.  (It’d be easier to come up with a list of chemicals not under consideration.)  Oh, wait, there is a condition prohibiting listing if every portion of the life cycle is adequately regulated by the feds or the state.  Who is going to believe that?

Once this list is published as final (after public comment), it triggers potential reporting of pretty much anything DTSC wants by anyone who touches a product containing a “chemical under consideration” throughout the supply chain (even my sister if she decides to give my white elephant gift to someone else to use, unless we have a contract that says she can’t). Product composition, markets, properties, analytical methodologies, you name it that DTSC would need to proceed to creating the “Priority Chemicals” list.  The agency can even send requests to out-of-state chemical manufacturers and request info and, since they have no jurisdiction over such companies, DTSC will put up an online dirty-no-goodnik list of non-cooperating companies and their chemical products on a “Failure to Respond List.”

And for those of you trying to avoid getting on the Priority Products list by substituting out (or even reducing the amount of) the “chemical under consideration,” you’ll still have to file a Tier I Alternatives Assessment and a “removed” form.  At least it isn’t a professionally created life cycle assessment.  But it’s close, as you need to explain the relative reduction in adverse health and/or environmental impacts.

So after collecting whatever data it needs on who knows how many “chemicals under consideration,” DTSC will come up with a list of “Priority Chemicals” based on the relative degree of threat to health or the environment, the reliability of the data (won’t that generate interesting comments) and, most importantly, the availability of DTSC resources.  The list is mandated to include carcinogens, reproductive toxins and EPA PBTs.  That ought to keep them busy enough without adding more, but petitions will be hot and heavy.

Priority Chemicals will drive listing of “Products Under Consideration” followed by “Priority Products.”  Both sets will go through public notice and comment, but you have to believe even the proposed PUC is a black list.  DTSC can look at factors that would mitigate exposure in setting under consideration and priority products and companies can file certification of removal or reduction of the priority chemical from their products (along with the Tier I Alternatives Assessment) to get off the list.  There’s also a de minimis level  – 0.1% or lower if there’s a regulatory level (e.g., MCL), but you have to submit proof it applies.  If your product still has a Priority Chemical 60 days after the final list is published, you are in for a world or work:  filing a Tier II Alternatives Assessment work plan (and then do it) to find or argue why you can’t find a safer alternative. These must be conducted by an accredited assessor and essentially are full-blown life cycle assessments.  In addition, you’ll need to have an end-of-life management program as long as a priority chemical is present.

I think DTSC is hoping that consortia and trade associations are going to do  assessments and maybe consolidated reporting on chemicals and product categories to cut down on the cost and paperwork.  Otherwise, the entire supply chain is going to be doing duplicative reporting.  Regardless, there will be an avalanche of demands upstream and downstream to figure out who’s got what chemicals and who’s covering which products.  Not to mention retailers refusing to sell products with chemicals under consideration and, for sure, priority chemicals.

Small businesses (<$1 million in sales) – never fear.  DTSC will provide consultation (for a fee).

After going through all the Tier II assessments, DTSC has to decide what regulatory response if any it needs to take on priority products.  This can go from nothing to a complete ban on the use of a priority chemical and recalls.  At least the proposal will allow public notice and comment on the proposed regulation.  Any retailers of the product must be notified of the regulation by the responsible entity.

Timing: in theory, it will begin with the proposed list of Chemicals Under Consideration in June 2011, and the first set of Priority Products by December 2013.

The only way this is going to conceivably work is if DTSC is starts very slowly in selecting Priority Products it lists – like 1 – 5 narrow categories of products.

Comments on the proposed rule are open until Nov 1, 2010.

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California released its draft regulation to implement the Green Chemicals Initiative June 23, 2010. Find it here: http://bit.ly/9BV64N

It’s stunning in its reach (makes EU’s REACH look like a walk in the park).  Pretty much everything is a “consumer product” despite the name of “Safer Consumer Product Alternatives” – if someone uses it in California it’s covered (Except: drugs, pesticides, food and dental restorative.  Must be a dentist in the state legislature).  And the chemicals that are to be “Under Consideration” (CUC) could potentially include anything and everything that could go to California that has any toxicity – including releasing non-ionizing radiation (like cell phones and microwaves).

But the initial focus will be on Prop 65 carcinogens and reproductive toxins that are persistent and bioaccumulate present in products at >0.1%.  These will become “Chemicals of Concern” – COC.  The products containing them will be “Priority Products.”  Given the hurdles to conduct life cycle assessments by 2 different certified Alternate Assessment professionals (one has to be an accredited 3rd party) and the unlimited information that can be demanded by DTSC, followed by restrictions in use and mandatory take-back programs for old products – companies should find something else now before the rule goes into effect or quit selling in California.

There is a long set of criteria to conduct prioritization of chemicals and products but, regardless,  DTSC is going to be overwhelmed. California is beyond broke and not likely to have the staff to process all this stuff,. So the lists may be a shorter to start with.  On the other hand, when has an agency not demanded a lot of reporting from companies and just let it pile up?  All they have to do is post the lists on their website and scan in the info being sent by companies and stand back and let the blacklisting do its thing.

I support the emphasis on life cycle thinking and looking at the potential impacts of the safer alternatives vs the not-so-safe products.  And they do acknowledge technical and market feasibility.  But it is the scale of effort that is mind-boggling.

You almost wonder if it would be easier for California to issue the short list of what can be used to make products for California.  Not sure what that might be though.  Certainly not water, given the drought conditions of the state and you need water to grow all those bio-based chemicals, so not sure they are possible either.  It’s not clear from the rule is the life cycle impacts include resource use and emissions that occur outside the state – but as California is championing GHG reduction, surely they are concerned with global impacts.

Saddest piece was this definition: “Make available for use in California” means that a person sells, offers for sale, distributes, leases, offers to lease, supplies, or otherwise transfers control over the disposition of a consumer product directly to a California consumer; or to another person without maintaining sufficient control over the distribution, sale, lease, supply, or other transfer of the consumer product by that person to prevent the use of the consumer product by a California consumer.” No more Christmas presents to my brother and sister, just to be safe. 😦

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