On Monday, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released a draft version of its Alternatives Analysis Guide, a document that will be critical to the implementation of the state’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program. Once finalized, the Guide will provide a framework and steps to help responsible entities (the manufacturers, importers, assemblers, and retailers of designated “Priority Products”) conduct an “Alternatives Analysis,” as required by the SCP regulations.
Under the SCP program, each Alternatives Analysis will look at how to best limit or prevent potential harm from the potentially hazardous “Candidate Chemical” in Priority Products. Every Alternatives Analysis must consider important impacts of the product throughout its life cycle and provide for specific actions to make the product safer.
After receiving and approving a final Alternatives Analysis report, DTSC will implement Regulatory Responses which favor the safest feasible alternatives. These actions may take the form of enforceable orders or agreements requiring further manufacturer research, additional information to DTSC or consumers, product redesign, end-of-life product stewardship, or sales restrictions or prohibition.
The draft Alternatives Analysis Guide provides information about the general process of conducting an Alternatives Analysis and is meant to be a “resource book” for people preparing Alternatives Analyses. The Guide provides methods, tools, information sources, and “best practice approaches” for conducting an Alternatives Analysis, and is expected to be updated periodically. The Guide is not a “regulatory document” or standard, nor is it meant to be used as a checklist.
In September 2015, DTSC released a Draft Stage 1 Alternatives Analysis Guide and scheduled the release of Stage 2 guidance for 2016. Stage 1 of the Alternatives Analysis process will begin with identifying product requirements and chemicals of concern, alternatives, and factors for comparing alternatives. Then, responsible entities will conduct an initial evaluation and screening of alternative replacement chemicals. Stage 1 culminates in the submission to DTSC of the Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report, including a Work Plan.
After the preliminary report is approved, Stage 2 begins with executing the Work Plan and conducting an in-depth analysis that includes life cycle and economic effects. After an iterative evaluation and comparison process, the responsible entity will select an alternative, based on the information and conclusions generated through the comparative analysis, and recommends a regulatory response. Finally, the responsible entity must submit a Final Alternatives Analysis Report, including an implementation plan and timeline, if applicable. This final report will be available for public review and comment before DTSC makes any determination about regulatory responses.
The draft Guide released this week covers both stages of the Alternatives Analysis process. New chapters of the draft Alternative Analysis Guide, addressing the steps in Stage 2, are as follows:
- Life Cycle Impacts
- Economic Impacts
- Informational Needs
- Selection of Alternatives
DTSC is accepting public comments on the draft Alternatives Analysis Guide through January 20, 2017. The agency has also scheduled a public webinar to present and discuss the draft on January 10, 2017.