EPA Launches Green Products Web Portal for Pollution Prevention Week

Sustainable Products/Green Marketing:

This week is Pollution Prevention Week.  And to help celebrate the Week, EPA has announced the launch of a new portal to help consumers find so-called “Greener Products.”   The tool is intended to provide consumers information about everyday products, enabling them to identify those that require less energy or water, or use safer chemicals.  The Agency’s announcement is embedded below.  The portal is accessible here.

______________

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is observing Pollution Prevention (P2) Week (September 19-25, 2011) by launching a new tool designed to provide Americans easy access to information about everyday products like home appliances, electronics and cleaning products that can save money, prevent pollution and protect people’s health. The new green products web portal is available at www.epa.gov/greenerproducts

This week serves to recognize significant pollution prevention work around the country and help  consumers get involved in pollution prevention. EPA’s new green products web portal is an easy way for all Americans to learn about products that prevent pollution and protect our environment.

Using the new tool, consumers can find electronics and appliances that have earned EPA’s Energy Star label and can browse WaterSense products that help save energy and water. Additionally, consumers can find information about cleaning products that are safer for the environment and people’s health. These products bear the EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) label. The website will also help manufacturers and institutional purchasers with information on  standards and criteria for designing  greener products.

“By purchasing greener products, consumers can help reduce air pollution, conserve water and energy, minimize waste and protect their children and families from exposure to toxic chemicals, while also creating green jobs,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, “Pollution Prevention is good for our health, our environment and our economy.”

Join the EPA in marking P2 Week this week, and help prevent pollution every day. More information on pollution prevention, P2 Week, and EPA’s P2 programs: http://epa.gov/p2/

Philip Moffat Will Speak About Sustainable Packaging at the 2011 ASC Sustainability Summit

Sustainable Products/Green Marketing:

Verdant is pleased to announce that Philip Moffat will speak at the 2011 ASC Sustainability Summit in Rosemont, Illinois (O’Hare) on July 26 – 27.  Mr.  Moffat will discuss green marketing and enforcement trends, the tools available to regulate green marketing in the U.S. and elsewhere, and the legal risks attending the marketing of “sustainable” packaging in the absence of universally accepted metrics and definitions.

The Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC) and ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society of Testing and Materials) are co-sponsoring the event.  Representatives from well-known organizations such as Dow Corning, John Deere, HP Fuller, the America Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Initiative, USEPA, and many others will be presenting on timely topics ranging from Green Chemistry to Green Marketing.  A copy of the preliminary agenda is set out below.  The conference brochure is available here.


Tuesday, July 26

Keynote Speaker………………………………………………………………….8:00 – 8:45 am
Dr. Bob Peoples, ACS

Adhesive Panel Discussion (focused on transportation)…………….8:45 – 10:15 am
Moderator: Sandra Niks, ASTM

Sealant Panel Discussion (focused on building construction)…….10:30 am – Noon
Moderator: Ken Yarosh, Dow Corning

Lunch Keynote Speaker……………………………………………………….Noon – 1:00 pm
FEICA – The EU’s perspective on sustainability
in the adhesive and sealant space

Adhesive Panel Discussion (focused on packaging)……………………1:15 – 2:45 pm
Moderator: John Kalkowski, Packaging Digest Magazine

Break Out Session – Adhesives………………………………………………3:30 – 4:30 pm

Break Out Session – Sealants…………………………………………………3:30 – 4:30 pm

Tour of a LEED Silver Building………………………………………………..4:30 – 5:45 pm

Reception…………………………………………………………………………..6:00 – 7:00 pm

Wednesday, July 27

Adhesives Group Key Findings……………………………………………….8:00 – 8:45 am
Presented by Adhesives Group Leader

Sealants Group Key Findings………………………………………………….8:45 – 9:30 am
Presented by Sealants Group Leader

ASTM Future Initiatives & Roadmap………………………………………9:45 – 10:00 am

ASC Future Educational Initiatives ………………………………………10:00 – 10:15 am

Closing Keynote Session……………………………………………………10:30 – 11:30 am
Rik Master, USG Corp.

Health Canada Publishes FAQs on Canada Consumer Product Safety Act

Consumer Products:

On May 17, 2011, Health Canada published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document concerning the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).  The CCPSA enters into force on June 20, 2011, and many questions remain unanswered.  Industry and other stakeholders have been waiting for more detailed instructions from the agency.  A copy of the CCPSA is available here, and the FAQ is available here.

A broad range of products and associated packaging are covered by the CCPSA.  Under the Act, a “consumer product” is defined as a product, including its components, parts or accessories that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging. Section 4 of the Act outlines the consumer products to which the CCPSA does not apply, including those listed in Schedule I. These include products that are covered under other legislation such as food, cosmetics, medical devices, drugs, natural health products, pest control products, fertilizers and vehicles.

The FAQ includes a fairly comprehensive set of questions.  The following examples are provided for the reader’s convenience:

Q. Does my product fall under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)?

Q. Is Health Canada considering adding certain products to the list of products to which the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) does not apply?

Q. The definition of “consumer product” contains terms such as “obtained” and “non-commercial purposes” which are not defined in the Act. Is Health Canada going to provide definitions or guidance on these terms?

Q. Will there be a transition period for the implementation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and regulations, and if so, how long will it be?

Q. What does it mean in practice for the Minister to have the authority to order a recall?

Q. What is Mandatory Reporting?

Q. How do I determine what is considered as a reportable incident?

Q. Will the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) Mandatory Reporting requirements be retroactive? For example, at the time that the Act comes into force on June 20th, 2011, will manufacturers, importers and retailers be required to report incidents that happened prior to that date?

Q. If a product falls under the purview of both the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and another statute, such as a provincial one, will Health Canada be the primary reporting body that will distribute the incident report information to the other regulatory body?

Q. Does a recall undertaken in another country need to be reported in Canada as well?

Q. Is Health Canada planning to require traceability of components of consumer products?

Q. When can we expect to see new regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)?

Q. When will the regulations for Administrative Monetary Penalties be developed?

Q. Will certain organizations be exempt from the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)?

Q. What safeguards are in place to protect Confidential Business Information submitted to Health Canada?

Readers interested in consumer product safety should continue to follow Canada’s implementation of this important new law.

Design for the Environment–EPA’s Safer Product Labeling Program

Green Chemistry/Design for the Environment:

Readers interested in EPA’s Safer Product Labeling Program may want to look through the list of products now authorized to carry EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) label.  The list is available here.

On April 20, in anticipation of Earth Day, EPA announced that 2,500 products are now approved to carry the DfE label, including all-purpose cleaners, laundry and dishwasher detergents, drain line maintainers, and car and boat care products. DfE-labeled products do not contain known chemicals of potential concern, like carcinogens, reproductive or developmental toxicants. Even minor product components, like dyes and fragrances, are screened for safety.  In fact, according to EPA, before allowing the DfE logo to be used on a product label, the Agency conducts a scientific evaluation to ensure that candidate products are formulated from the safest possible ingredients.  The Agency’s press release explains that “[t]he DfE label means that EPA has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that the product contains only ingredients that, in EPA’s scientific opinion, pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.”

EPA also announced that DfE labeled products will soon be required to disclose their ingredients (other than trade secrets) to consumers. In addition, new DfE-approved products will need to meet additional life-cycle requirements such as sustainable packaging and limits on volatile organic compounds.  The new disclosure and life-cycle requirements will be phased in for existing DfE products, but some companies are already moving to comply with those standards.

Instructions on the application process for DfE labeling are available here.

Click here for the DfE home page.

Leading Consumer Products Companies Explain How and Why They Share Chemical Data Along the Supply Chain

Green Chemistry/Sustainable Supply Chain Management:

The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) recently published a report titled, Meeting Customers’ Needs for Chemical Data: A Guidance Document for Suppliers.  The Guidance Document is designed to improve supply chain communication between suppliers and their customers concerning chemical identities and health and safety data.  In the report, leading companies such as HP, Johnson & Johnson, Method, Nike, SC Johnson, and Wal-Mart explain why they want such data and how they interact with their suppliers to obtain it. 

Readers unfamiliar with GC3 should know that it is a business-to-business forum for members to discuss and share information and experiences relating to the advancement of green chemistry, design for the environment, and sustainable supply chain management.  GC3, which began in 2005, is a project of Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  GC3 prepared the Guidance Document with two goals in mind: “(1) to advance the efforts of companies trying to obtain the chemical data needed for regulatory and corporate sustainability programs and in response to market demands, and (2) to advance the efforts of suppliers to provide chemical data needed by their customers.”

The Guidance Document is a response to the growing demand for increased transparency concerning chemical-related data. Companies attempting to bring “green” or “safer” products to the market need chemical identity and health and safety data at the product design phase.  Access to this information enables them to evaluate and manage market, regulatory, and tort liability risks, as well as respond to requests from their customers, including consumers, wanting more information.

The Guidance Document should prove helpful to suppliers less familiar with the trend toward greater transparency, the rationale supporting it, and the techniques used to sustain it.  The document explains why fabricators and formulators are requesting chemical data, what chemical data are being sought, how suppliers can benefit from sharing data, why Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) often provide inadequate data, how companies are handling confidential business information, how fabricators and formulators collect data from their suppliers and what they are doing with the data, and where suppliers can obtain the data being requested.  In addition to describing the chemical data collection practices of different companies, the Guidance Document also provides customizable letters and forms that companies can use to facilitate their communications. 

More information about GC3 is available here.

USDA Launches BioPreferred Product Certification and Labeling Program

Sustainable Products:

On January 20, 2010, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule announcing its BioPreferred Program, a voluntary product certification and labeling program established under the authority of section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA), as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA), 7 U.S.C. 8102.  According to the USDA press release, “this new label will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products in the commercial market and for consumers.” The rule is effective February 22, 2011.

Under the program, a biobased product, after being certified by USDA, can be marketed using the “USDA Certified Biobased Product’’ label.  Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The presence of the label will mean that the product meets USDA standards for the amount of biobased content and that the manufacturer or vendor has provided relevant information on the product for the USDA BioPreferred Program web site. The rule applies to manufacturers and vendors who wish to participate in the voluntary labeling component of the BioPreferred Program.  It also applies to other entities, such as trade associations, that want to use the label to promote biobased products. 

With the launch of the USDA biobased product label, the BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a biobased product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, established in 2005, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products.  According to the USDA’s website, the Agency has already designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by Federal agencies. The new label will make identification of these products easier for Federal buyers, and will increase awareness of these high-value products in other markets. USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States and that the growing industry as a whole is responsible for over 100,000 jobs.

Lastly, readers will recall that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently proposed revisions to its guidance concerning compliance with section 5 of the FTC Act when making environmental marketing claims – the so-called “Green Guides.”  In that proposal, the FTC elected to defer to the USDA’s BioPreferred labeling program for guidance on marketing products covered by the program.  So, companies making “biobased” marketing claims in compliance with the USDA’s requirements presumably would have a limited safe-harbor from FTC enforcement.  However,  the FTC has reminded marketers that its proposal contains guidance concerning “made with renewable materials” claims, which can be similar to “biobased” claims, so marketers would need to remain mindful of that guidance when making such claims.

EPA Requests Comments on Its Role in Advancing Sustainable Products

Pollution Prevention Act/Sustainable Products:

In today’s Federal Register, EPA solicited comments from stakeholders on potential roles for the Agency in advancing sustainable products.   According to the notice, EPA will consider the comments it receives and as well as information it gathers from other sources to help define its role and develop a strategy that identifies how the Agency can make a meaningful contribution to the development, manufacture, designation, and use of sustainable products.  Comments are due by October 19, 2010.

EPA requested input on the following questions:

1.   What do you see as the major policy and research challenges, opportunities, and trends impacting the development, manufacture, designation, and use of sustainable products?

2.   What do you see as EPA’s overall role in addressing these challenges and opportunities?

3.   In particular, how do you see EPA’s role in:

  • Assembling information and databases.
  • Identifying sustainability ‘‘hotspots’’and setting product sustainability priorities.
  • Evaluating the multiple impacts of products across their entire life cycle.
  • Defining criteria for more sustainable products.
  • Generating eco-labels and/or standards.
  • Establishing the scientific foundation for these eco-labels and/or standards.
  • Verifying that products meet standards.
  • Stimulating the market.
  • Developing end-of-life management systems (reuse, recycling, etc.).
  • Measuring results, evaluating programs.

EPA cites Section 13103(b) of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA) as its authority for this action.  That section requires the Administrator of EPA to facilitate the adoption of source reduction techniques by businesses and to identify opportunities to use Federal procurement to encourage source reduction.  For those who are less familiar with the PPA, 2010 is the Act’s 20th anniversary. 

It’s nice to see EPA allowing its use of the PPA authority to evolve in response to today’s market demands and societal needs.   However, the potential impact on market competition from Agency involvement in this area means that EPA’s notice is likely to receive a mixed reception.   Some will welcome it as an opportunity to help organize a market that seems crowded, disorganized, confusing, and misleading in some cases.  Others will prefer to let this rapidly evolving market mature without excessive government involvement.  And still others will worry about the regulatory consequences for products that are not deemed sustainable should the Agency promote a defined set of  criteria or support a particular eco-label.  Undoubtedly, many stakeholders will submit comments to sensitize the Agency to these concerns, as well as the potential trade-offs and other considerations.

So, what do readers think?  Should EPA attempt to set criteria identifying which products are “sustainable” or should the market be left to do that?  Again, comments are due by October 19, 2010.