News & Press: Regulatory News

CALIFORNIA SAFER CONSUMER PRODUCTS ACT – A NEW BURDEN FOR INDUSTRY

Tuesday, April 15, 2014  
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CALIFORNIA SAFER CONSUMER PRODUCTS ACT – A NEW BURDEN FOR INDUSTRY

As the largest state in the Union California exerts a significant effect on the pine chemicals industry even though we have few actual manufacturing operations there. The many formulators and end-users that use pine chemicals in their products will possibly be subject to the state’s latest chemical control law – the Safer Consumer Products Act.  SCPA goes right to the heart of the state regulators’ desires: simply put, it requires manufacturers or other responsible entities to seek safer alternatives to harmful chemical ingredients in widely used products. The Pine Chemicals Association lobbied against many of the provisions for four years as part of the Green Chemistry Coalition but the law eventually went into force on Oct. 1 2013 with few major changes.

How did California decide what was a harmful chemical? A “Candidate Chemicals List” (CCL) of about 1200 substances was drawn up based on about 23 other “authoritative lists.” From the CCL up to five substances would be picked every year to receive a major review (the first three were recently revealed). The state will determine whether the substance presents an unreasonable risk: industry will have to prove that a safer alternative doesn’t exist. This falls on manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, many of which have never had to worry about this sort of regulation. The regulations will be complex and expensive and have the potential to create much confusion with customers. California is transparent about its hope that simply having your product appear on the CCL list will convince them to phase it out.

 One of the “authoritative lists” was a preliminary screening by Environment Canada published in 2006. Four rosin derivatives appeared on this list, and through the efforts of the Pine Chemicals Association, were eventually declared to be substances of little concern in a 2010 Screening Assessment. No matter. California will not remove them from the CCL until Environment Canada removes them from its list, and Environment Canada will not change the list because it is simply a record of what was done in 2006 - a Catch 22 if ever there was! Meanwhile keeping these “green” substances on the CCL will create unwarranted concerns with the customers and with other states that have chemical control programs.

The only path forward seems to be for the Pine Chemicals Association to petition the state with no guarantee of success. Like the eponymous song, Hotel California, it seems that chemicals check in but can never check out. Stay tuned!


Article authored by Nelson Lawson on behalf of the PCA Product Regulatory & Stewardship Committee