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Household and commercial products association urges strong environmental protection agency

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Underscoring his willingness to work with a variety of stakeholders, HCPA President and CEO Steve Caldeira called on Congress to fully fund the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At last month’s annual meeting, Caldeira noted that there was no shortage of public policy issues currently impacting the household and commercial products industry. These issues are even more important in a divided federal government. Changes are also underway at the state level.

“We will need to change our legislative and regulatory approach in some states to accommodate new political dynamics.” Caldeira said in his annual address.

Caldeira noted that Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have all seen notable power shifts. But regardless of the state, Caldeira said the HCPA’s priority issues include producer responsibility bills and regulations, plastics, chemicals of concern in consumer products, household hazardous waste, l labeling and durability.

He warned that with a divided Congress in 2023, it will be difficult to pass laws such as the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA).

“That is why it is so important to pass the PRIA this year before the start of the new session of Congress in January,” he explained.

Mike Gruber, the Association’s lead lobbyist, is leading the PRIA Coalition in drafting key provisions of the bill and coordinating meetings with congressional staff to educate them further on the importance of this legislation. According to Caldeira, due to a lack of resources, the EPA has struggled to meet pesticide registration deadlines and not re-allowing the PRIA will only make matters worse. Moreover, he predicted that expense bills would also become difficult to pass in 2023.

After years of neglect by the previous administration and Congress, the EPA’s problems have opened the door for states to create their own, often conflicting and costly, regulations, according to Caldeira.

“It’s critical that we get the resources from the EPA that it needs to operate as planned,” he said.

HCPA has taken a leadership role in advocating for a stronger EPA with opinion pieces and letters to the editor, in addition to its lobbying efforts.

Caldeira admitted that, from the members’ perspective, the EPA has a lot of room for improvement. But he said the Agency deserved a lot of credit for making do with what it had, like an outdated software system.

“Years of congressional neglect have forced the EPA to sort through one issue after another — and only Congress can provide the funding the agency needs,” he said.

HCPA is also a sponsor of the EPA’s Safer Choice program. In fact, the Association won the EPA’s 2022 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award. It was the seventh time in eight years that HCPA had won this honor. Safer Choice helps consumers and workers identify products that have excellent environmental, health and safety profiles. In 2022, several HCPA members won Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards, including Bona, Church & Dwight, Clorox, Jelmar, Novozymes, Procter & Gamble, Purpose Built Brands, and Reckitt.

But even a stronger EPA cannot reduce legislative activity at the state level. For example, HCPA staff currently manage the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility in California, Colorado, Maine and Oregon. All four states have passed EPR legislation. Caldeira explained that other states plan to pass their own EPR bills, creating a patchwork of producer responsibility laws across the country. California, Colorado and Maine are also involved in implementing PFAS. All three have passed laws prohibiting the sale of products containing intentionally added PFAS and requiring manufacturers to report the presence of the substance. HCPA is working with state agencies to identify exemptions before other states pass similar legislation.

“This situation is further complicated by the fact that there is currently no universal definition of PFAS based on science, which makes it difficult for manufacturers to determine whether the substance is in a process, formulation or product packaging,” Caldeira observed.

In other states, Vermont is leading the charge in household hazardous waste legislation; Caldera predicted that it’s only a matter of time before this problem emerges in other states. In anticipation of this increased activity, HCPA established a working group to inform the development of a policy position on waste collection approaches. In New York, at press time, HCPA was working on implementation challenges before the ban on 1,4-dioxane went into effect on consumer products.

In the nation’s capital, HCPA is opposing a proposal in Washington, DC that would restrict the sale of consumer pesticides that are used in homes and businesses to protect public health.

HCPA continues to monitor activities in California and the European Union to restrict microplastics in consumer and commercial products. The EU is also proposing to change the list of fragrance allergens, which will impact ingredient disclosure under California’s right-to-know cleaning products law. When the proposed changes are finalized in Europe, companies selling cleaning products in the United States will be responsible for updating their fragrance allergen disclosures, Caldeira observed.

In June, Caldeira and Nicholas Georges, Senior Vice President for Scientific and International Affairs, traveled to Brussels to meet with the Head of Bioeconomy, Chemicals and Cosmetics of the European Commission in Brussels to discuss the Green Deal, product labeling, essential use concept. and ingredient disclosure. On this trip, they met with representatives of the British Aerosol Manufacturers Association, the European Aerosol Federation, the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, the International Fragrance Association and the International Network of Cleaning Product Associations .

“As we well know, legislation and regulations in Europe often influence policy in the United States, so it is essential that we continue to foster these relationships with international trade associations,” he explained.

Elsewhere, Caldeira noted that Mexico continues to pursue VOC regulations based on the EPA’s national regulations for consumer products. Canada recently released VOC regulations based on the California Air Resources Board’s Consumer Product Regulation 20-10. The regulations went into effect on January 1, but the VOC limits become enforceable in 2024.

Back in the US, Caldeira noted that in addition to California, 10 other states and the District of Columbia are creating new VOC regulations or revising existing regulations.

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