Partnering with EPA's Design for Environment at Walmart Sustainable Products Expo.

EPA is a significant partner to companies leading innovation efforts in the arena of safer consumer products, according to Assistant Administrator Jim Jones, of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. In a blog post yesterday, Jones describes how EPA’s Design for Environment (DfE) program recently participated in a “Supplier Panel on Sustainable Chemistry” at Walmart’s first ever Sustainable Products Expo, which brought together leaders from EPA, NGOs, and product manufacturers.

As we have previously discussed, EPA’s DfE program – which establishes voluntary sustainability-related standards for consumer products like household cleaners – plays a major role in Walmart’s Sustainable Chemistry Initiative. Jones writes that EPA’s contribution is “providing scientific expertise and understanding of health and environmental impacts throughout the supply chain, educating consumers and companies alike, and bringing people to the table to stimulate dialogue and partnerships.” Jones notes that with “growing consumer recognition” and trust for the DfE’s “Safer Products” label and program criteria, EPA’s partnerships with companies like Walmart and its participating suppliers can promote sustainability, health, and the environment while meeting consumer demand and growing their business.

The Expo also featured announcements from Walmart and its suppliers of various new sustainability commitments and initiatives. One such initiative is the Closed Loop Fund, which will invest $100 million seeded from suppliers including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Johnson & Johnson in recycling infrastructure with the goal of “transforming the recycling system in the United States.” Cargill made commitments to increase supply chain transparency in beef and Procter & Gamble pledged to reduce water use for liquid laundry detergent. Together, the suppliers participating across all of these voluntary sustainability efforts account for over $100 billion in sales at Walmart.

A first look at EPA’s draft guidelines for greener government purchasing.

On November 20, EPA released its Draft Guidelines for federal government procurement of greener products. Because the federal government purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services, changes in federal procurement policy can have broad ripple effects for product manufacturers and markets.

The Draft Guidelines were formulated with the General Services Administration and other agencies to help federal purchasers identify and buy environmentally preferable products; currently, agencies must meet a mandate that 95% of acquisitions be sustainable. EPA is also seeking input on how to assess existing, non-governmental environmental standards and ecolabels. Although many environmentally preferable products are identified with federal ecolabels such as Energy Star or Design for Environment, other products are not covered by such labels. When finalized, these guidelines will provide clarity regarding the term “environmentally preferable,” and help federal purchasers make consistent comparisons across different environmental standards and ecolabels.

The Draft Guidelines consist of four sets of guidelines, many of them referring to ISO 14024 and other existing standards for ecolabels, each addressing different aspects of the issue area:

  • Process for Developing the Standard
  • Environmental Effectiveness of the Standard
  • Conformity Assessment
  • Management of Ecolabeling Programs

Under EPA’s proposed approach, one or more NGO with expertise in the area would work with a multi-stakeholder panel to develop a process for applying the guidelines to private sector environmental standards and ecolabels. EPA envisions that the guidelines would be applied on product category basis to create a list of product standards and ecolabels that meet the guidelines for each product category. The resulting list would be made available to federal agencies for voluntary use and supplement existing federal standards or ecolabels.

The Draft Guidelines establish two tiers of guidelines: “Baseline” and “Leadership.” This approach was developed to allow flexibility in addressing the varying approaches to sustainability practices incorporated across different industries and product categories. According to EPA’s FAQ:

…draft “baseline” guidelines align with Federal goals and requirements, are relatively straightforward to evaluate, and are applicable across industry sectors. Draft “Leadership” guidelines represent EPA’s current assessment of best practices and are currently achievable by some standards and ecolabels.

The Draft Guidelines only address products, but EPA also expressed interest in public comments on environmental benchmarking for services such as hospitality, printing, and cleaning.

EPA is accepting comments on the draft guidelines through February 25, 2014.

U.S. retailer Target introduces sustainable product standard.

On October 7, 2013, Target announced a new Sustainable Product Standard that it will begin using this month to evaluate the sustainability and environmental impact of products sold in its stores.

Target said that it will ask “vendors representing 7,500 products in household cleaners, personal care and beauty and baby care” to provide product ingredients and information about various environmental attributes so that the company can assess products using GoodGuide’s UL Transparency Platform, a business-to-business screening tool that allows a company to evaluate ingredient information provided by suppliers. The Platform’s assessment tool will compare the product data to hazard trait and regulatory and other environmental criteria lists.

After being evaluated, each product will be assigned up to 100 points based on the sustainability of ingredients, ingredient transparency and overall environmental impact. Target’s announcement explains that the standard was developed “over the last two years in partnership with industry experts, vendors and NGOs.” The standard “will help establish a common language and definition for qualifying what makes a product more sustainable.”

According to Target spokesperson Jessica Stevens, the Sustainable Product Standard “does not have a direct guest-facing, in-store component,” so consumers will not see product assessment scores displayed in stores. Stevens explained that “products that pass a minimum threshold to be set by Target” will have access to special merchandising and marketing support.

Many environmental advocates like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Breast Cancer Fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics were enthusiastic about the new standard. However, BizNGO chair and Clean Production Action co-director Mark Rossi expressed concern that the UL Transparency Platform is designed for information sharing between businesses and does not require any public disclosure; the platform’s proprietary nature means consumers and safety advocates have no access to the criteria used in its assessments. Although Target has not released any details on its scoring or standard benchmarks, it is expected to do so in the near future.

Target’s new Sustainable Product Standard follows its competitor Walmart’s announcement of its own “Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables,” which we discussed last month. Walmart’s policy is based on GreenWERCS, its own proprietary tool that assesses products’ chemical composition and screens for potential adverse human and environmental effects. Both retailers are taking steps to increase transparency and eliminate potentially hazardous chemical ingredients in their supply chains, although Target’s policy focuses on incentivizing safer products through its point-based standard, while Walmart’s approach is to eliminate certain chemical ingredients from products in their stores altogether.

Verdant Proudly Sponsors Prop.65 Clearinghouse's Green Chemistry Conference

Green Chemistry:

Verdant is pleased to announce its sponsorship of the Prop.65 Clearinghouse Green Chemistry Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at the The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street.

  • Verdant attorney, Philip Moffat, will present on “REACH 2013.”
  • Verdant attorney, Catherine Lin, will present on “Supply Chain Management.”

More information about the conference is available here and an agenda is available here.   A copy of Mr. Moffat’s presentation is available here [PDF].

CIEL Report Claims Regulation Stimulates Chemical Innovation

Chemical Regulation/Innovation:

Earlier this month, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) released its report, Driving Innovation: How stronger laws help bring safer chemicals to market.  In the report, CIEL offers research showing that stronger laws foster innovation by large and small companies alike.  Among other things,CIEL cites the number of patents for alternative chemicals filed every time there’s new chemical regulation. CIEL is located in Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland.  More information about CIEL is available here.

Forbes magazine recently published an article on this same topic, citing the CIEL report among other sources.  That article is available here.

What do others think of this conclusion?

EU Commission Releases Roadmap on Substances of Very High Concern

EU REACH Substances of Very High Concern:

Last week, the EU Commission released its Roadmap on Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). The Roadmap outlines a process for identifying and assessing potential SVHCs within the following categories: substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMRs); substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative or toxic for the environment (PBTs); substances that are very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvBs); and substances of equivalent concern, such as endocrine disruptors. The Roadmap estimates that the process will evaluate up to 440 substances, a far lower number than the 1,900 substances originally anticipated, with an initial goal of completing 80 assessments by the end of 2014.

The Roadmap follows the Commission’s commitment to compile a comprehensive REACH candidate list of SVHCs and is designed to help meet the Commission’s plan to include all currently known SVHCs on the candidate list by 2020.

The SVHC Roadmap proposes first screening substances with REACH registration dossiers by applying a minimum quantity threshold and generally exempting substances registered only for intermediate uses. The second step entails conducting a “Risk Management Options” (RMO) analysis. Under this approach, the best regulatory option to manage a particular risk is chosen after considering actions available within REACH (like imposing authorization, restriction or substance evaluation requirements) or under other legislative schemes, such as RoHS. For example, the Roadmap suggests that substances with demonstrated risk should be restricted under REACH.

The roadmap is downloadable as a PDF from the EU website.

Upcoming Public Hearing on California's Draft Green Chemistry Regulations

California Green Chemistry Regulations:

California EPA and DTSC have announced a public meeting on the draft regulations.  The meeting will occur on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

See announcement embedded below.

CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY COUNCIL

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING

Department of Toxic Substances Control’s

Safer Consumer Products Proposed Regulations

Need for a Multimedia Evaluation

The Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) will convene a public meeting of the California Environmental Policy Council (CEPC) to consider the need for a multimedia evaluation of the Safer Consumer Products regulations proposed by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The public meeting will commence as follows:

Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

2ndFloor – Sierra Hearing Room

Joe Serna, Jr. Cal/EPA Building

1001 “I” Street, Second Floor

Sacramento, California

At the public meeting, the CEPC will consider the DTSC staff report on the Need for a Multimedia Evaluation of the Safer Consumer Products Regulations. Based on the report and public comments, the CEPC will determine whether or not DTSC’s proposed regulations will have a significant adverse impact on public health or the environment.  The public comments made in this public meeting should be primarily focused on the recommendation contained in the DTSC report.

Persons interested in commenting on the DTSC Safer Consumer Products regulations must do so by sending their comments directly to DTSC as part of the rulemaking process,  by email to gcregs@dtsc.ca.gov, fax (916) 323-5542, or by mail to:

Department of Toxic Substances Control

Regulations Section

PO Box 806

Sacramento, CA 95812-0806

For further details or for a copy of the report, please visit Cal/EPA’s website at: http://www.calepa.ca.gov/Cepc/

 

 

DTSC Requests Public Comment on Another Draft of the Green Chemistry Regulations

California Green Chemistry Regulations:

The saga of California’s nascent Green Chemistry program continues. Last week, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released the revised text (PDF) of its proposed Safer Consumer Product Regulations. The comment period for the revisions started on January 29 and closes on February 28, 2013.

Notably, the revised rules significantly pare down the list of potential Chemicals of Concern (COCs), which are now referred to as “Candidate Chemicals,” from over 3,000 to approximately 1,200. The Candidate Chemicals  are drawn from lists of substances which exhibit one or more hazard trait. The revisions also clarify that the list of Priority Products to be regulated will be developed and updated through the Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking process.

In addition, DTSC modified the applicability of upfront exemptions for certain products, providing an exemption for products already regulated by other laws that provide comparable health and environmental protections. However, products which are manufactured, stored, or transported through California solely for use outside of the state, or used in California solely for the manufacture of non-consumer products will no longer be exempted, although these factors will be considered in the product prioritization process.

Requirements for the certification and accreditation of assessors involved in developing Alternatives Analyses (AA) have been relaxed in favor of a public review and comment process for AA reports, a choice that seems likely to increase the administrative burden and place confidential business information at greater risk. The scope of evaluating economic impacts for AA reports has also been limited to “a monetized comparison of public health and environmental costs, and costs to governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations that manage waste, oversee environmental cleanup and restoration efforts, and/or are charged with protecting natural resources, water quality, and wildlife.”

Finally, DTSC’s ability to make regulatory responses has been further refined and clarified. For example, the revised proposal requires DTSC to provide notice (with accompanying public comment period) of its proposed regulatory response determination no later than 90 days after it issues a notice of compliance or disapproval for a submitted AA report. The revised proposal also limits the agency’s ability to impose certain regulatory responses on manufacturers only, and not on retailers or importers.

More details on the revised proposed regulations, including how to submit comments and a comprehensive summary of changes from the agency’s last proposal, are available on the DTSC’s website.

DTSC Reopens Comment Period on Green Chemistry Regulations

California Green Chemistry:

On December 20, DTSC delivered everyone an early Christmas present.  The agency announced that it was re-opening the docket to accept public comments on yet another revised version of the Safer Consumer Product Alternative (SCPA) Regulations.  The agency’s announcement is embedded below.  Merry Christmas – better scratch those holiday plans and get back to work!  Surely some are asking themselves “When will this stop and the litigation begin?”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

30 DAY PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENT PERIOD

NOTICE OF PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF POST-HEARING CHANGES

SAFER CONSUMER PRODUCT ALTERNATIVES

Department Reference Number: R-2011-02

Office of Administrative Law Notice File Number: Z-2012-0717-04

Pursuant to Government Code section 11347.1, notice is hereby given that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has revised the Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR) for the Safer Consumer Product Regulations, which establish the criteria for identification and prioritization of chemicals of concern in consumer products, evaluation of their alternatives, and imposition of regulatory responses by adopting chapter 55 to division 4.5 of Title 22, California Code of Regulations, and to amend the Table of Contents. DTSC is revising the ISOR to correct: typographical, spelling, cross-referencing, punctuation and other formatting errors. In addition, DTSC has revised the ISOR to address some substantive drafting issues raised regarding the ISOR. These include, but are not limited to, making more explicit the necessity statement for each provision.

 DTSC mailed the 45-day Public Notice and made it, together with the regulations text and related materials, available for public review and comment on July 27, 2012. A public hearing was held on September 10, 2012, during which DTSC accepted written and oral testimony. In addition, written comments were accepted during the 45-day public comment period, which was extended by 30 days and ended October 11, 2012. DTSC has now made post-hearing changes to the ISOR. DTSC is NOT proposing changes to the regulations text as part of this notice and related public comment period.

 A public comment period for the revised ISOR will commence on December 21, 2012, and close at 5 p.m. on January 22, 2013. Interested persons may submit comments regarding the revised ISOR by e-mail to gcregs@dtsc.ca.gov, by fax to (916) 323-5542, or by mail to:

Ms. Krysia Von Burg

Regulations Coordinator

Department of Toxic Substances Control

P.O. Box 806

Sacramento, CA 95812-0806

 Copies of the revised ISOR are posted to DTSC’s Internet site at: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/LawsRegsPolicies/Regs/index.cfm and http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/SCPRegulations.cfm and are available for public inspection between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Regulations Section located at 1001 I Street, 23rd Floor, Sacramento, California. Requests and inquiries concerning this matter may be directed to Ms. Krysia Von Burg at the address indicated above or by telephone at (916) 324-2810. Additions to the existing text are double-underlined and text deleted from the existing document is shown as strikeout.

 All comments must be received by DTSC by 5:00 P.M. on January 22, 2013, regardless of the form of transmission.

 Technical inquiries regarding the Revised Initial Statement of Reasons should be directed to Ms. Odette Madriago, Chief Deputy Director, at (916) 323-4927. However, it should be noted that oral inquiries are not part of the rulemaking record.   

30 DAY PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENT PERIOD 

NOTICE OF PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF POST-HEARING CHANGES

 

SAFER CONSUMER PRODUCT ALTERNATIVES

 

Department Reference Number: R-2011-02

Office of Administrative Law Notice File Number: Z-2012-0717-04

 

 

Pursuant to Government Code section 11347.1, notice is hereby given that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has revised the Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR) for the Safer Consumer Product Regulations, which establish the criteria for identification and prioritization of chemicals of concern in consumer products, evaluation of their alternatives, and imposition of regulatory responses by adopting chapter 55 to division 4.5 of Title 22, California Code of Regulations, and to amend the Table of Contents. DTSC is revising the ISOR to correct: typographical, spelling, cross-referencing, punctuation and other formatting errors. In addition, DTSC has revised the ISOR to address some substantive drafting issues raised regarding the ISOR. These include, but are not limited to, making more explicit the necessity statement for each provision.

 

DTSC mailed the 45-day Public Notice and made it, together with the regulations text and related materials, available for public review and comment on July 27, 2012. A public hearing was held on September 10, 2012, during which DTSC accepted written and oral testimony. In addition, written comments were accepted during the 45-day public comment period, which was extended by 30 days and ended October 11, 2012. DTSC has now made post-hearing changes to the ISOR. DTSC is NOT proposing changes to the regulations text as part of this notice and related public comment period.

 

A public comment period for the revised ISOR will commence on December 21, 2012, and close at 5 p.m. on January 22, 2013. Interested persons may submit comments regarding the revised ISOR by e-mail to gcregs@dtsc.ca.gov, by fax to (916) 323-5542, or by mail to:

Ms. Krysia Von Burg

Regulations Coordinator

Department of Toxic Substances Control

P.O. Box 806

Sacramento, CA 95812-0806

 

Copies of the revised ISOR are posted to DTSC’s Internet site at: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/LawsRegsPolicies/Regs/index.cfm and http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/SCPRegulations.cfm and are available for public inspection between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Regulations Section located at 1001 I Street, 23rd Floor, Sacramento, California. Requests and inquiries concerning this matter may be directed to Ms. Krysia Von Burg at the address indicated above or by telephone at (916) 324-2810. Additions to the existing text are double-underlined and text deleted from the existing document is shown as strikeout.

 

All comments must be received by DTSC by 5:00 P.M. on January 22, 2013, regardless of the form of transmission.

 

Technical inquiries regarding the Revised Initial Statement of Reasons should be directed to Ms. Odette Madriago, Chief Deputy Director, at (916) 323-4927. However, it should be noted that oral inquiries are not part of the rulemaking record.  

FTC Publishes Revised Green Guides

Green Marketing:

On October 2, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published long-awaited revised guidelines, known as the Green Guides, to aid marketers in properly making environmental benefit claims.   The FTC released its final revisions after a multiyear investigatory process, which included marketing surveys as well as reviewing comments from companies, trade organizations, government entities and individuals.  The the Green Guides lack the force of law, they provide guidance on how to avoid false or misleading environmental marketing claims in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

Below is a short summary of some of the major changes contained within the final revisions.

Highlights of the Newly Revised Green Guides

General Environmental Benefit Claims: The Green Guides caution against making general environmental benefit claims, such as using the words “green” or “eco-friendly,” without stating the basis for and qualifying these terms. The qualifying information must be clear, prominent and available at the point of sale—so consumers are able to see it before making their purchasing decisions.

Carbon Offsets: Marketers should use competent and reliable scientific evidence and comprehensive accounting methods to support their claims. However, an offset claim is inappropriate if the activity that makes the basis of the claim is required by law. If the offset purchase will pay for an emission reduction that will not occur for at least two years, then marketers are encouraged to disclose this information.

Certifications and Seals of Approval: The Green Guides also make recommendations for certifications and seals of approval used for endorsements. Marketers are encouraged to use environmental certifications or seals that convey the basis for the certification, but if these are not available, then they should clearly identify the product’s specific environmental benefits. Marketers are also encouraged to disclose their material connections with certifying organizations and must verify all express and implied claims when using third-party certification.

Compostable or Degradable:   “Compostable” claims must be based on competent and reliable scientific evidence, showing that product or packaging materials will become usable compost. Marketers should qualify if the product is not able to be composted in a safe or timely fashion. “Degradable” claims do not have to be qualified if the product or package can completely break down within a reasonably short amount of time, typically one year.

“Free-Off”:  “Free-of” claims can be made if the product contains trace amounts, background levels or less of the substance; the substance was not intentionally added to the product; and the amount contained with the product will not cause the type of harm linked to the substance.  The final revision differs from the standard articulated in the draft revision, and it will certainly create challenges for marketers.

 Non-Toxic:  For “non-toxic” claims, marketers should employ competent and reliable scientific evidence showing that the product is safe for people and the environment, unless otherwise qualified.  A product might be considered “non-toxic” under certain agency regulations designed to protect human health, but those regulations might not ensure protection for the environment.

Ozone-Safe:  Marketers are cautioned against misrepresenting that a product is safe for the atmosphere or ozone layer because the FTC finds that these can be unqualified general environmental benefit claims.

Recyclable and Recycled Content: The Green Guides also provide guidance regarding “recyclable” and “recycled content” claims. Recyclable claims should be qualified if recycling facilities are unavailable to 60 percent of consumers or communities to whom manufacturers sell a product. Recycled content refers to material recovered or diverted from waste during manufacturing or post-consumer use. Marketers are advised to qualify claims for products or packaging constructed partly from recycled material and specify the amount of partly recycled material contained therein. In addition, qualified claims should be made for products containing used, reconditioned or remanufactured parts.

Refillable: Marketers should not make unqualified “refillable” claims unless they identify a method to refill the product.

Renewable Materials and Energy : With claims like “made with renewable materials or energy,” the guides provide that marketers should qualify claims with specific information about the renewable materials used, such as what the renewable material is, how it is sourced and what qualifies it as renewable. Also, the Green Guides specify that marketers should qualify claims of renewable energy by specifying the source (e.g., wind or solar). If the power used to manufacture the product or any component of the product comes from fossil fuels, a renewable energy claim is inappropriate unless renewable energy certificates are purchased to link with energy use.

Source Reduction:  Finally, “source reduction” claims should be qualified with the amount of reduction and the basis for comparison from which the claim is made (e.g., “30 percent less runof f than our earlier model”).

 “Sustainable” and “Organic” Are Not Addressed:   The final revisions offer no guidance on claims regarding “sustainability” and whether a product is “organic.” The FTC claims that it lacks a sufficient basis or context to provide guidance on these claims because these terms have numerous meanings among consumers. However, the Green Guides caution marketers from making these types of claims without impunity.

***

The complete final revisions to the FTC’s Green Marketing Guides are available here.   Additional information is also available on the FTC’s dedicated website