in this issue
ACI: Chemical management reform, outreach top agenda
January 20, 2014 | —Robert Westervelt
Priorities for the American Cleaning Institute (ACI; Washington) in 2014 focus on advancing chemical management reform and continuing efforts to strengthen technical, outreach, and education programs, says Ernie Rosenberg, president and CEO of ACI. The organization will hold its annual meeting and industry convention in Orlando, FL, 27 January–1 February.
One of ACI’s, as well as other industry groups’, priorities is ensuring that efforts to modernize chemical management move forward following last year’s introduction of a bipartisan bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Introduced in May 2013 by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D., NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R., LA), S. 1009—The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) of 2013—has been hailed by industry, lawmakers, and nongovernmental organizations as a compromise that addresses key TSCA inadequacies and can serve as an effective template for meaningful chemicals management reform.
“We are confident that the Vitter-Lautenberg Senate bill will proceed,” Rosenberg says. “We have a bill with 25 bipartisan cosponsors, which is, by itself, an achievement in this polarized environment. And, we expect additional Senate support for the bill.” Rosenberg expects the House to introduce legislation soon that will be largely consistent with what Vitter and Lautenberg propose. “We don’t know if it will be as broad, but we do see both chambers working together on the issue, which is also encouraging and notable,” Rosenberg says.
One of the key areas of debate over CSIA remains state preemption authority. “I think one of the critical issues will be maintaining business community support when a compromise does come out,” Rosenberg says. “We see room for compromise. We can’t discuss the specifics yet.... We’ll see what we get.”
A strong, credible federal management program will be in the interest of all parties and should ultimately reduce the need for state and local involvement, he adds. “With a credible program, if EPA finds that a chemical does not merit control, we don’t expect states to go after products,” Rosenberg says. “Also, we think states will defer to EPA on products that may need control, assuming EPA is given the resources and authority to move expeditiously.”
State chemical management efforts also remain a priority for advocacy efforts. Rosenberg expects ACI will be active as California advances regulation its green chemistry programs. “We are well positioned to help because of our science focus,” Rosenberg says. “We expect to support the effort.”
EPA may also expand its safer ingredients list under its Design for Environment (DfE) program. EPA added 130 chemicals in June 2013. For the first time, 119 fragrance chemicals for commercial and consumer cleaning products were added to the list. “We hopefully will see additional products added to the list as environmentally preferable,” Rosenberg says. “We are encouraged by movement there.”
ACI is also keeping a close eye on a proposed rule, issued by FDA in December 2013, that would require manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to demonstrate that the products are safe for long-term, daily use and are more effective than soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. “We think data demonstrate efficacy and can debunk concerns about resistance,” Rosenberg says. “There is not a problem with antimicrobials used in hand washing,” he adds.
Technical, outreach programs expand
The group is strengthening efforts around disclosing ingredient research and data. “In the coming year, we will develop a Web portal that will have detail on data sets we use,” Rosenberg says. “It is all part of industry’s commitment to transparency. We recognize the demand for the data responsibility to address concerns of consumers.”
ACI will continue to make research widely available. “We don’t keep the science a secret. We have led efforts to get agreement across formulated products that we won’t try to edit, alter, or withhold scientific studies,” Rosenberg says. “There is a need to make sure they are conducted according to protocols that are scientifically valid and respected. And, if there is information that is adverse, we are lucky to represent an industry that will take that seriously and address it instead of trying to quash findings.”
Consumer outreach and education efforts will focus on laundry safety, including the risk around consumption of single-dose packets or pods by children. “It is a major area of focus,” Rosenberg says. “We want parents to be aware that products need to be kept out of the reach, and preferably out of view, of children and pets.”
Sustainability communication is also important. ACI expects to release a new sustainability report in early 2014 and will continue to advance its metrics program. “Sustainability initiatives give us ability to showcase what cleaning products supply chain is doing to enhance sustainability of products,” Rosenberg says. “It goes beyond safety. We are trying to demonstrate how we can increase effectiveness while lowering volumes, reducing water use, and allowing lower temperatures.” Sustainability metrics for an organization that focuses on ingredients and products—not facilities—is a “knotty problem. You can’t do it in a dumb way,” Rosenberg says. Companies are adept at measuring the reducing environmental impacts at plants and plant sites. “For measuring product efficacy, however, there is not a single set of metrics you can use,” he adds. The group is also moving forward on the development and creation of a sustainability charter.
Rosenberg says ACI enters its annual meeting after a strong 2013. “Membership is up, and our influence, particularly in the area of TSCA reform, has never been greater and is unmatched by any other downstream association,” Rosenberg says.