What is California’s Green Chemistry Initiative?
California’s Green Chemistry Initiative is a comprehensive program designed to substantially reduce the impact of toxic chemicals on public health and the environment. It proposes a fundamentally new and unique approach to regulating consumer product formulations containing hazardous chemicals. In the past, environmental protection has focused on the storage and disposal of hazardous waste; however, the Initiative transitions away from the management of toxic chemicals at the end of their lifecycle and focuses on minimizing or eliminating their use from the start.
What are the Safer Consumer Products Regulations?
The Safer Consumer Products regulations are a key part of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. In 2008, California passed AB 1879, which stipulates that California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) must regulate hazardous chemicals in consumer products and evaluate their potential for safer alternatives.
The regulations provide a four-step process to identify safer consumer product alternatives:
Candidate Chemicals (CCs) - The Safer Consumer Products regulations establish an immediate list of CCs - approximately 1,200 - based on the work already done by other authoritative organizations.
Initial List - These are the chemicals on the CCs list that are currently under consideration for classification as Chemicals of Concern (COCs).
Chemicals of Concern (COCs) - These are the initial list of CCs that have been identified in Priority Products under the Safer Consumer Products regulations.
(2) Products: The SCP regulations require DTSC to identify product/chemical combinations to develop a list of Priority Products for which Alternatives Analyses must be conducted (if the product will continue to be sold in California).
(3) Alternatives Analysis: The SCP regulations require manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers to notify DTSC when their product is listed as a Priority Product after DTSC posts Chemical of Concern (COC)/ Priority Product combinations on its website and incorporates them into regulations. Manufacturers that want to continue selling a Priority Product must perform an Alternatives Analysis for the Priority Product/COC combination to determine if the COC can be eliminated from the product, and if the alternative product formulation is safe and effective.
(4) Regulatory Responses: The regulations require DTSC to identify and implement regulatory responses designed to protect public health and/or the environment, and maximize the use of acceptable and feasible alternatives of least concern. If DTSC has concerns that are not resolved by the Alternatives Analysis, they may add labeling or use restrictions to the Priority Product, or select an alternative product to replace the Priority Product.
What is the Safer Consumer Products Program?
While the Safer Consumer Products program went into effect on October 1, 2013, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) plans to phase it in slowly. DTSC
selected three Priority Products on March 13, 2014 based on factors such as the presence of a hazardous chemical in the product, likelihood of public exposure to the toxic ingredient, extent of product use and disposal practices. Stakeholders had an opportunity to provide comment on DTSC’s selection of specific Priority Products at a series of three public workshops. DTSC is also required to develop a three-year Priority Product workplan by October 1, 2014 - DTSC released a draft workplan on September 12, 2014, and has scheduled workshops to discuss with stakeholders on September 25 (Sacramento) and September 29 (Cypress). DTSC’s 2015-2017 Priority Product workplan identifies product categories from which Priority Products will be selected over the next three years. At the workshops, DTSC staff will present an overview of the workplan, explain the process by which future Priority Products will be listed, and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions and address concerns. DTSC will take all comments into consideration, including written public submissions until October 13, 2014.
The initial three proposed Priority Products (children’s sleeping mats with TDCPP, spray polyurethane foams systems containing unreacted diisocyanates and paint strippers with methylene chloride) will start the regulatory process later in 2014. Once the COC/Priority Product combinations are finalized in regulations, companies with Priority Products have 60 days to self-report. Additionally, once the regulations are finalized, companies will have 90 days to proceed with the “off-ramp” processes or 180 days to deliver the preliminary Alternatives Analysis.
What are the “off-ramp” processes?
Once a Priority Product is announced by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), affected companies that do not pursue a preliminary Alternatives Analysis will have the option of several different “off-ramp” choices that must be initiated within 90 days of the regulations being finalized. The following “off-ramp” options are available to companies with Priority Products:
Chemical Removal Intent:
Companies can remove the Chemical of Concern (COC) from the product. Once the Chemical
Removal Intent is submitted, companies have another 90 days to submit a Chemical Removal Confirmation.
Product Removal Intent:
Companies can remove their product from the California marketplace. Once the Product
Removal Intent is submitted, companies have another 90 days to submit a Product Removal Confirmation.
Product/Chemical Replacement Intent:
Companies can attempt to replace a COC in their product with an alternative
chemical. Once the Product-Chemical Replacement Intent is submitted, companies have another 90 days to submit a
Product-Chemical Replacement Confirmation.
Alternatives Analysis Threshold Notification:
Companies can pursue a notification stating that the COC is a
contaminant that is below the Practical Quantitation Limit, and thereby poses no threat to the consumer (if DTSC offers
this option for the specific COC/Priority Product combination).
Abridged Alternatives Analysis Report:
Companies can pursue an Abridged Alternatives Analysis report stating that a
functional and feasible alternative chemical is not available.
How does the Alternatives Analysis process work?
Under the Safer Consumer Products regulations, an Alternatives Analysis is a process that compares the existing Priority Products with potential alternatives (e.g., chemical substitution or product design) using 13 factors evaluated at each state of the product’s lifecycle. Upon conclusion of the Alternatives Analysis, the manufacturer will select an alternative chemical ingredient or product design, or decide to retain the existing product/chemical combination.
As part of the process, companies are required to submit an Alternatives Analysis report to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) once the Alternatives Analysis is completed. DTSC will evaluate the completed report to determine if there are ongoing public health or environmental impacts associated with the Priority Product that can be remedied by one or more regulatory responses.
The preliminary Alternatives Analyses reports consist of a six-step process:
(1) Identify the function, performance and legal requirements of the Priority Product. Identify the role, if any, of the Chemical
of Concern (COC) and if it can be removed without replacement.
(2) Identify potential alternative chemicals and explain why potential alternatives are not viable.
(3) Identify factors for alternative comparison if alternatives differ in conjunction with an exposure pathway and lifecycle segment.
(4) Initial screening of potential alternative chemicals to eliminate some alternative chemicals based on various
adverse effects and hazards.
(5) Additional factors that eliminate an alternative chemical.
(6) A preliminary work plan for the final Alternatives Analysis report and submission of the Preliminary Alternatives
The final Alternatives Analyses reports consist of a five-step process:
(1) Identify factors relevant to alternatives comparison that involve issues such as adverse impacts and multimedia lifecycle
impacts, product function and performance, and economic impacts.
(2) Identify factors relevant to alternatives comparison using both quantitative and qualitative tools that affect exposure
pathways and lifecycle.
(3) Impact of other factors, including those identified in preliminary Alternatives Analysis report.
(4) Selection of an alternative formulation for the Priority Product.
(5) Preparation and submission of the final Alternatives Analysis report.
How can TSG help me?
TSG has been actively involved in California’s Green Chemistry Initiative and the implementation of the Safer Consumer Products program. Our consultants have conducted several Green Chemistry/Safer Consumer Products seminars, participated in Infocast’s Safer Consumer Products Summits, and have close working relationships with California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Our professionals can help companies with the following:
Providing general guidance on the Safer Consumer Products program
Representing companies at the DTSC public workshop
Providing guidance on the three-year workplan
Providing advocacy for companies with Priority Products or Chemicals of Concern
Representing companies during the public comment period
Assisting with Alternatives Analyses
Contact TSG to learn how we can help.