EHS Management

Emerging Global Regs All US Companies Should Be Worried About

BLR’s Environmental Editor, Ana Ellington, was at the 2012 NAEM Product Stewardship Conference and got us an update on the shifting paradigm of global product and supply chain regulations. Here’s what she reports.

There’s been a rapid increase in the number of product-related regulations adopted each year, around the world. Currently, there are 60 countries with active product-related regulations that control all aspects of products, from product design to marketing conditions to distribution to product use and, finally, to end of life.

Many of the product-related regulations initially focus on consumer products, and are then expanded to cover business-to-business products. Types of products regulated include:

  1. Packaging
  2. Batteries
  3. Energy-using products (lamps, computers/IT equipment, TVs, white goods/brown goods, air conditioners, phones, etc.)
  4. Household and consumer care products
  5. Vehicles, boats, planes
  6. Heating installations
  7. Building/construction materials
  8. Machinery
  9. Paper and forest products
  10. Agriculture products

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How are products regulated?
Product regulations are usually focused on:

  • Restrictions on use of chemicals (Restriction of Hazardous Substances or RoHS-like)
  • Safety design requirements
  • Energy-efficiency requirements (EuP/ErP (energy-related products) and Energy Star)
  • Restrictions on emissions during product use
  • End-of-life and disposal requirements
  • They often involve market instruments:
  • Taxes or charges
  • Labeling requirements
  • Liability for unsafe products
  • The product regulations tend to spread worldwide in many ways:
  • Often imposed through the supply chain by customers
  • Enforced by consumer action groups
  • Competitors play a vital role in enforcement

Global Legislation
Chemical control regulations today affect many companies involved in the development of products—it’s not just the chemical companies anymore. The strict supplier information and chemical testing requirements will likely lead to further material restrictions. In today’s global marketplace, this will significantly impact the supply chain of product manufactures. It will be particularly burdensome on small “ma and pa” businesses having to make expensive adjustments because of the inevitable soon-to-be use and materials restrictions and prohibitions.

European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and restriction of Chemicals (EU REACH)

  • Single system for new and existing chemical substances
  • Shifts burden from regulatory authorities to industry (prove it is safe!)
  • Extends responsibility along supply chain—suppliers must demonstrate compliance to continue as supplier
  • More than 30,000 substances are implicated
  • Substances of very high concern (SVHC) slated for eventual total bans
    • 73 on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Candidate List
    • 14 on ECHA Authorization List (Annex XIV)
    • 4 under study for restrictions (lead compounds in consumer products, endocrine disruptors)

North America
In the United States, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on September 29, 2009, the Chemical Management Program that initiated new regulatory risk management actions and action plans for numerous substances.

  • Superseded the 2007 Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP)—aimed at full assessment of some 7,000 substances
  • The 2011 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule adds new information to be reported in addition to the Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) information
  • 2012 initiatives include work plan for TSCA reviews of 83 existing chemicals and further substances to be identified in 2013 and 2014
  • Asia
  • Similar smaller chemical testing and prioritization programs are running in China, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and more.

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Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
Although the goal of GHS was to develop a universal, worldwide classification system, the term “harmonized” is not quite as synchronized and universal as envisioned.

  • Countries have implemented different versions of GHS (U.S. OSHA adopted GHS for the Hazard Communication standard in May 2012)
  • Many at different stages of GHS implementation
  • GHS adjusted to local regulations worldwide
  • Different language requirements
  • Different transitional provisions
  • Countries add non-GHS hazard classes

Examples of RoHS-like
Restrictions on hazardous substances in electric and electronic equipment (EEE) are also rolling out around the world.

  • New Jersey, United States
    • Electronic Waste Recycling Act requires that new covered electronic devices (computers, monitors, TVs) comply with EU RoHS.
  • Wisconsin, United States
    • Legislation signed in October 2009 requires manufacturers of some electronics products to register and declare whether they meet the RoHS requirements.
  • China RoHS
    • In August 2011, China implemented a voluntary certification scheme for electrical information products with RoHS-like material restrictions.
  • Japan
    • Standard on the Marking of Presence of Specific Chemical Substances for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (J-MOSS) requires that specific products containing hazardous substances be labeled.
  • Korea
    • The Act on the Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Automobiles has restricted hazardous substances in electronic products since 2007.
  • Turkey
    • Adopted RoHS requirements in May 2008, which went into effect June 1, 2009.

These directives continue to evolve. The EU RoHS Directive was recently amended extending its scope to cover all types of EEE, including cables, consumables, and accessories. The amendments specifically exclude active implantable medical devises and photovoltaic panels.

And then there’s the issue of enforcement. See tomorrow’s Advisor for a heads up on how the EU plans to step up stricter enforcement to improve global environmental regulation.

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