Readers curious about notable innovations in the green chemistry space may be interested in the following announcement from EPA regarding the 2011 winners of the Presidential Challenge Awards.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EPA Honors Winners of 2011 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards
WASHINGTON – For the 16th year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recognizing pioneering chemical technologies developed by leading researchers and industrial innovators who are making significant contributions to pollution prevention in the United States. These prestigious awards recognize the design of safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes, and products that will protect Americans, particularly children, from exposure to harmful chemicals.
The awards will be made this evening, June 20, at the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. This year’s awards are significant because 2011 has been named the International Year of Chemistry and marks the 20th anniversary of EPA’s efforts in what would become the creation of green chemistry.
“EPA congratulates this year’s winners for designing and developing innovative green chemistry technologies that will result in safer chemicals for use in products, homes, schools, and workplaces that also have significant environmental and economic benefits,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are bestowed in five categories. The 2011 award winners are:
By recognizing groundbreaking scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems, EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Program has significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing and using chemicals. The program promotes research and development of less-hazardous alternatives to existing technologies that reduce or eliminate waste, particularly hazardous waste, in industrial production.
An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute selected the 2011 winners from among scores of nominated technologies. During the program’s life, EPA has received more than 1,400 nominations and presented awards to 82 winners. Winning technologies alone are responsible for reducing the use or generation of more than 199 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 57 million pounds of carbon dioxide releases to the air. These benefits are in addition to significant energy and cost savings by the winners and their customers.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/greenchemistry/pubs/pgcc/past.html
Listen to podcasts about this year’s winners: http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/pubs/2011_podcasts/index.html
Japan/Chemical Notification and Reporting:
Early in June 2011, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) announced a revision to the process Japanese companies use to annually notify the agency about the chemical substances that they import. Under the new process, a foreign supplier can provide certain confidential business information (CBI) directly to METI rather than to the Japanese customer, and the Japanese customer would submit the remainder of the notification. This joint process is a welcome approach, and although it is not a complete solution, it is an encouraging signal that METI will adopt a practical approach to implementing the 2009 amendments to the Chemical Substances Control Law (CSCL).
The annual notification requirement was adopted as part of a series of amendments to the CSCL that the government enacted in 2009 to move the country toward a more risk-based approach to chemical regulation. For readers less familiar with the CSCL, the law is Japan’s analogue to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Several agencies, including METI, administer the law. The CSCL generally requires Japanese manufacturers and importers to notify the agencies and receive their approval before commencing manufacture or importation of “new” chemical substances that are not otherwise excluded or exempt. The law also bans certain substances and imposes restrictions and reporting requirements on others. The annual notification requirement adopted in 2009 is distinct from the new chemical notification requirement. The annual requirement applies to substances already on the market, and it was designed to provide additional exposure-related information to the agencies so that they can identify those whose risks warrant further management through restrictions or other measures.
The annual notification requirement applies to two classes of chemical substances, “General Chemical Substances (GCS)” and “Priority Assessment Chemical Substances (PACS)” that are manufactured or imported at or above 1 metric ton during the previous fiscal year. (There is a similar notification process for so-called Monitoring Chemical Substances (MCS) that are manufactured or imported at or above 1 kg per year.) When a GCS is present in a mixture below 10%, or a PACS is present as an impurity at less than 1%, it is not counted toward the 1-ton threshold. Japanese companies that manufacture or import a reportable substance above the threshold must submit a notification form to METI between April 1 and June 30 each year. 2011 is the inaugural notification year. The prescribed form requires information about the quantity of the substance imported or manufactured, as well as information about its chemical identity and uses.
Prior to the revision METI announced, foreign suppliers, especially of mixtures, faced a tough choice. Basically, they would either need to disclose to their Japanese customers the identities and percentages of the substances in their mixtures, potentially losing CBI since many of the mixtures are proprietary, or lose the customers by not providing information necessary to fulfilling a compliance obligation. Preferring neither option, suppliers in the United States and elsewhere began lobbying METI for an alternative. METI announced the alternative earlier this month, issuing guidance that revises the annual notification process. However, the revision is not as comprehensive as what was requested since it does not protect from disclosure information concerning PACs.
METI’s revision affects annual notification of General Chemical Substances, but not PACs. METI issued a three-page guidance document explaining the revised notification process. A copy of the guidance is available here. In it, METI explains that a Japanese company could submit a joint notification with its foreign supplier when the foreign supplier claims as CBI the chemical identity or its concentration rate in a mixture. The Japanese company would initially complete as much of the notification form as possible and submit it to METI along with a cover letter explaining the situation and identifying the foreign supplier. The incomplete form would function as a placeholder while the supplier completed the final version. The supplier would then submit the final form to METI and the notification process would be considered complete.
METI’s revision is an improvement on the annual notification process. How well it works remains to be seen. Presumably, the agency will make an evaluation at the end of this first notification cycle. Readers interested in Japanese chemical regulatory control matters should check back periodically for further updates on this development and others in Japan.
On June 8, 2011, EPA announced the public disclosure of the identities of more than 150 chemicals contained in 104 health and safety studies that had been claimed confidential under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). For those 104 studies, the chemical identity will no longer be redacted, or kept from public view. According to EPA, the chemicals at issue are used in dispersant formulations and consumer products such as air fresheners, non-stick and stain resistant materials, fire resistant materials, nonylphenol compounds, perfluorinated compounds, and lead. This latest development is another demonstration of EPA’s commitment to increasing transparency under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by making publicly available more information about chemical hazards.
Readers will recall that, in 2010, EPA challenged industry to declassify voluntarily unwarranted claims of confidential business information (CBI). EPA also issued new guidance outlining plans to deny CBI claims for chemical identity in health and safety studies under TSCA. Based on this guidance, EPA notified a number of companies in February 2011 that it had determined that their CBI claims were not eligible for confidential treatment under TSCA and that EPA intended to make the information public. (See related posts here and here.) The health and safety studies included in the lastest disclosure include some declassified by EPA and other voluntary declassifications by companies in response to EPA’s challenge.
In addition to these actions, EPA over the past several months has taken a number of other steps to make chemical information more readily available. EPA provided the public, for the first time ever, with free access to the consolidated TSCA Inventory on the EPA and Data.Gov websites. EPA also launched a new chemical data access tool that gives the public the ability electronically to search EPA’s database of more than 10,000 health and safety documents on a wide range of chemicals that they may come in contact with every day. (See related post here.) More information about EPA’s transparency initiative under TSCA is avaialble here.
Green Chemistry Regulations:
Each of the three subcommittees of the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) Green Ribbon Science Panel will hold two teleconferences in June in preparation for the meeting of the entire Panel scheduled for July 14 and 15 in Sacramento. Each teleconference will focus on an aspect of the alternatives assessment process required under the Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (SCPA) Regulations still under development.
Members of the public and representatives of organizations are invited to attend and participate in the GRSP subcommittee meeting. The time allotted for individual public comments may be limited, depending on the number of individuals wishing to speak. Speakers are not required to identify themselves publicly.
Additional details are set out below.
#1: Alternative Assessment (as described in AB 1879)
This subcommittee will meet:
- June 1, June 7 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM PDT.
- June 1 Agenda | June 1 Notice | June 7 Agenda | June 7 Notice | Topic Papers | Attachments
Subcommittee #1 members are:
- Ken Geiser, Ph.D. (subcommittee chair)
- Art Fong
- Roger McFadden
- Julia Quint
- George Daston
- Timothy Malloy
- Ann Blake
- Mike Wilson
- Julie Zimmerman
- Oladele Ogunseitan
#2: Tiered Alternatives Assessments
This subcommittee will meet:
Subcommittee #2 members are:
- Jeff Wong DTSC Chief Scientist (subcommittee chair)
- Kelly Moran
- Richard Denison
- Mike Kirschner
- Richard Liroff
- Meg Schwarzman
- Anne Wallin
- Bruce Cords
#3: Quality Assurance for Alternatives Assessments
This subcommittee will meet:
Subcommittee #3 members are:
- Bill Carroll, Ph.D. (subcommittee chair)
- Jae Choi
- Dale Johnson
- Joe Guth
- Lauren Heine
- Tod Delaney
- Robert Peoples