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ACI 2014: Regulations, sustainability efforts top global panel concerns

10:41 AM MST | January 30, 2014 | Rebecca Coons in Orlando

Burdensome and counterproductive regulation and industry’s sustainability efforts emerged as common themes at the Global Industry Update panel at the American Cleaning Institute's annual meeting, currently underway in Orlando. Panelists on Tuesday's Global Industry Update included trade association delegates from Europe, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and Canada. 

Richard Sedlak, ACI executive v.p./technical and international affairs, introduced the panel, noting that the major issues facing industry in different parts of the world can come to the US, and sister trade groups can provide a wealth of information in how best to meet those challenges. He also noted the “internationalization” of ACI. “This year we have 21 countries represented,” which facilitates international exchange of information." 

Presenter Mario Eugenia Proenca Saldanha, executive v.p./Brazilian Cleaning Products Industry Association (ABIPLA), says this exchange makes it possible for her to proactively work on issues that other markets are facing but could someday come to Brazil.

Susanne Zänker, director general of International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE), says her agency is helping member companies manage the challenges posed by Europe’s Reach legislation by developing and promoting voluntary initiatives and partnering with other industry groups to achieve a better regulatory framework. AISE is working with other formulator sectors in the Downstream User of Chemicals Coordination Group to develop a harmonized and workable implementation of Reach. It is also working with ECHA on a 2013-2018 REACH roadmap. “We are starting, not only to implement but to look ahead, to pave the way forward, of what in Reach is working, what is not working, and where change may be anticipated,” Zänker adds.

Zänker also highlighted AISE’s DetNet (Detergent Network), a voluntary initiative to collect data based on validated and recognized test methods for European detergent companies.  DetNet, which launched late last year, is meant to facilitate Classification, Labeling, and Packaging (CLP) legislation; new consumer label requirements for mixtures go into effect 1 June 2015. DetNet enables companies to do an assessment of their products and derive their classification, she says. The system launched on 5 January. 

AISE has also launched a product stewardship program for liquid laundry capsules following incidences of accidental poisoning—an issue not unique to the European market. AISE’s program aims, “firstly to reduce the visibility of the packaged capsules, and secondly reducing access to those capsules by changing closures,” Zänker says.  Labels showing safe use and storage were also added.

Sustainability continues to be a big driver for AISE member companies, Zänker adds. She says AISE’s Charter for Sustainable Cleaning, a voluntary lifecycle-based framework that promotes a common industry approach to sustainability practice and reporting, includes 212 companies. ACI announced this week that it would launch a similar program for its member companies.

Shannon Coombs, president/Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA), says pending regulations for volatile organic compounds, regulatory modernization for the Food and Drugs Act, and new patient safety legislation are among the issues impacting Canada’s soap and detergents industry. “In 2008 we had draft [VOC] legislation that went published, and we’ve had great success with that regulation trying to reduce the regulatory burden via harmonization requests,” Coombs says. CCSPA is also working on reducing redundant regulation, and trying to get its member companies products out of regulations under the Food and Drugs Act. “We’ve been looking for specific exemptions,” Coombs says, adding that it has successfully lobbied to get toilet bowl cleaners and hard surface cleaners excluded.

Patient Safety legislation introduced just before Christmas would also increase the scope of adverse reporting under the Food and Drug Act and have mandatory recall provisions, Coombs says.  “What’s unique about this piece of legislation that it is going to exempt all natural health products and therefore there will not be a level playing field within many of our company’s product lines,” she adds. CCSPA is working with other trade associations to ensure that there are provisions in place to make sure the legislation focuses on pharma.

Environmental stewardship is a priority for Japanese detergent and cleaning product manufacturers, says Shigeo Ishii, senior managing director/Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA). Between 1995 and 2011, JSDA member companies have voluntarily cut plastic use by 12%—or 41% on a per product volume basis—largely by introducing refill and replacement products into the market. The agency has also been monitoring environmental concentrations of surfactants in rivers since 1998, and data shows that concentrations and environmental impacts are very low. Looking forward to 2014, JSDA will be keeping an eye on developments in chemical substance control laws and ISO TC91, Ishii adds.

Saldanha says ABIBLA’s 2014 priorities include sustainability, regulatory issues, taxes, and addressing the lack of oversight for “informal” competition. ABIBLA’s sustainability program includes post-consumption packaging and efforts to concentrate and compact formulations.

There is plenty of room for growth in the Brazilian market, Saldanha adds. Brazil is the fourth-largest cleaning market in the world, yet still has a low level of per-capita use: 4.5 kg of powder detergent per inhabitant, Saldanha says. The cleaning products market in Brazil has been growing over the Brazilian GDP for the last 10 years, and is expected to grow 4.4% in 2014.

Craig Bock, policy and public affairs director for Accord, Australia’s soap, detergent, cleaning and cosmetics group, says the high value of the Australian dollar, reduced consumer demand, high costs, and structural changes in distribution channel are challenging industry in Australia. The number 1 issue, however, is over-regulation of low-risk product.  Bock cited an example in which Australia’s National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) determined that steamed rolled oats meets the definition of a new industrial chemical, not a naturally-occurring substance.

All of Accord's strategic activities on behalf of industry target over-regulation of low-risk products, which creates a barrier to innovation and investment, Bock says. The group says priorities in 2014 will include calling for extension of the GHS implementation deadline for mixture products from 31 December 2016 to 2020; NICNAS reform; gaining lighter-touch regulation for hard-surface disinfectants and polymers or ‘low concern’; and gaining ‘regulatory equivalence’ acceptance of low-risk products already on the market in advanced economies like the EU and the United States.

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