Demystifying 1,4 Dioxane: What you need to know
Lately, the regulatory spotlight has been shining on one particularly confusing chemical in consumer products: 1,4-dioxane.
Both California and New York have already issued new guidance targeting 1,4 dioxane. These new restrictions will mean that both retailers and suppliers need to pay attention to where the substance may be, and be ready to confirm that it is not in their products at a certain level. So, we’ve put together a quick look at the reasons behind the urgency around 1,4 dioxane and some tips for how to stay ahead of the curve.
1,4 dioxane: What is it? And why does it matter?
1,4-dioxane is a substance that can be created when making detergents, soaps, and creams, and it’s now considered an environmental contaminant and a probable human carcinogen. 1,4-dioxane contamination can occur rather easily – as a byproduct of the manufacturing processes when making these products. It is also intentionally used at higher concentrations as a solvent in industrial manufacturing processes. Studies have also shown that the harmful substance can easily dissolve in water, which means it could be found in unsafe amounts in drinking water.
All of this has, naturally, made consumers and regulatory bodies worried about finding it in things they use and its possible effects on our health. However a risk evaluation published by the US EPA in 2020 found no unreasonable risks to consumers or bystanders from any conditions of use, including eight consumer uses of surface cleaners, laundry/dishwashing detergents, and paint/floor lacquer where 1,4-dioxane is present as a byproduct.
Regulatory changes and how to keep up
While there is still a lot of unknown around the future of 1,4 dioxane, specific new regulations have started to gain traction. The Food and Drug Administration had previously encouraged suppliers to minimize 1,4-dioxane content, but New York has now taken a proactive approach by implementing a restriction on dioxane contamination levels in products. As of December 31, 2022, cleaning and personal care products are limited to 2 parts per million (ppm), while cosmetics are limited to 10 ppm. And the cleaning and personal care limit was set to reduce to 1 ppm by December 31, 2023.
1,4-dioxane has also been getting attention because of the California Cleaning Product Right-To-Know Act of 2017. Under this new regulation, it must be disclosed on a products website as a “nonfunctional constituent” when it's present at or above 10 parts per million (ppm). Since this chemical is also a carcinogen on the California Proposition 65 list, it might be subject to labeling requirements even below this threshold.
There a few simple - but crucial - steps both suppliers and retailers can take to stay ahead of these changes:
- Brush up on which product categories are affected by these bans. You can find product categories that are likely to fall under the ban on the NY State Department of Conservation website.
- Suppliers: Be ready with specific evidence proving the dioxane content for your products is below the allowable threshold. If a product uses a “ethoxylated” ingredient (commonly employed in the production of personal care, household care products) it might contain a regulated amount of 1,4 dioxane. Determine which products you have contain these ingredients, so you can narrow down which items you need to obtain evidence for and make sure you have that on-hand.
- Retailers: Maintain an open-line of communication with suppliers. Your suppliers know their products’ best and have the information you need to prove that the dioxane levels are below allowable thresholds.
The NY Dioxane Ban, along with evolving regulatory guidelines, can be confusing to navigate and leave more questions than answers. Lean on your suppliers, retailers and regulatory partners to help translate and prepare for these new guidelines as effectively as possible.
By staying informed and maintaining close collaboration with your partners, you can successfully navigate these regulations, avoid costly fines or product delays, and provide consumers with safe and transparent choices.
Governor Newsom signs legislation to revisit necessity of aquatic toxicity testing
This press release was originally published by the National Stewardship Action Council on September 15th, 2022
For Immediate Release:
GOVERNOR NEWSOM SIGNS LEGISLATION TO REVISIT NECESSITY OF AQUATIC TOXICITY TESTING
Retailers, Environmental, Clean Air, and Animal Protection Groups Thank Legislature and Governor for Taking Steps to End Unnecessary Fish Testing and Incineration.
(SACRAMENTO) – Tuesday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law California’s Assembly Bill 1793 by Assembly member Dr. Bill Quirk, which will require the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to review the continued value of acute aquatic toxicity testing, or “aquatox” testing on live fish, which determines if waste is hazardous to the aquatic
environment. The law will also require DTSC to evaluate alternative testing methods such as calculation-based methods (otherwise known as computational toxicology) and submit a report to the Board of Environmental Safety that includes recommendations on next steps.
“We were happy to sponsor a bill that benefits so many, including the communities most impacted by incineration plants or hazardous waste landfills where these products have previously been burned or buried,” said Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of NSAC.
Currently, retailers must understand both federal and state toxicity regulations to sell and manage consumer products compliantly or are subject to hefty fines. When faced with California’s complicated hazardous testing criteria, many retailers will skip the hazardous evaluation process altogether and the waste must be presumed as toxic. Therefore, instead of conducting “aquatox” testing, the status quo for many retailers is to “play it safe” and consider all potentially hazardous waste as “hazardous”, which includes returned, cruelty-free, and unsellable products.
“The replacement of the “aquatox” test with a new calculation-based methodology means Smarter Sorting’s retail clients stand to save millions of dollars a year on the unnecessary incineration of returned and non-saleable products, plus the ability to divert some of these products away from waste altogether and donate or reuse them. Moreover, brands soon could accurately classify their product without the requirement of animal testing” said Jacqueline Claudia, Chief Executive Office for Smarter Sorting.
California is the only state that still requires the “aquatox” test on live fish, with other states having already taken action to allow for toxicity to be calculated rather than physically tested. An antiquated 30-year-old California testing requirement, AB 1793 will finally result in an evaluation of whether modern, calculation-based methods are more appropriate.
“The fish test was last updated over three decades ago. It leads to innocuous products being treated as hazardous waste,” said Assemblymember Dr. Bill Quirk. Specifically, preliminary data demonstrated that many household products fail the “aquatox” test, including nearly all soaps and shampoos. Requiring that these relatively innocuous products be managed as hazardous waste increases businesses’ costs and the burden on low-income communities where hazardous waste facilities are often located.
California already had plans to broadly reevaluate its hazardous waste testing criterion via The Budget Act of 2022, which was signed into law in June and includes a Budget Change Proposal for DTSC to add 8 positions and $1.5 million annually to evaluate all existing California hazardous waste criteria. AB 1793 simply ensures the existing hazardous waste evaluation will include consideration of the “aquatox” criteria and alternatives such as calculation-based methods. AB 1793 received unanimous votes on both the Senate and Assembly Floors, and was signed by Governor Newsom on Tuesday, September 13th
Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director
National Stewardship Action Council
Original Release published on: https://www.nsaction.us/
The do's and dont's of selling TVs, computers, printers and other electronics
The do's and don'ts of selling TVs, computers, printers and other electronics
What are the state-level rules for compliantly selling consumer electronics?
As the consumption of consumer electronics increases and the obligations to handle electronics in a safe and sustainable way becomes more and more important, it’s essential that retailers and manufacturers know their obligations and understand the proactive ways they can be good corporate citizens.
Here are three questions electronics retailers and manufacturers should seek to answer:
1. What are the state-level regulations that apply to Covered Electronic Devices (CED) today?
2. How does the price of a TV affect which regulations apply?
3. Which states have obscure rules for CEDs?
Failing to comply with selling requirements could result in being placed on a “Do Not Sell” list and the issuance of fines.
Demand for consumer electronics is going up and up and so are the risks if retailers make mistakes with selling, shipping, returns, recycling, and donations?
US sales of electronic devices are staggering. In 2021, we spent a whopping $442 billion. That’s $1,440 for every person. Over the next five years, the industry expects a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% globally.
While demand for electronic devices increases, retailers and manufacturers are also under pressure to deliver products as efficiently and sustainably as possible. There are many hurdles to overcome - most notably, regulatory hurdles. Every phase of the consumer electronic supply chain is regulated, from equipment manufacture, to transportation, to selling in the store, to how the product must be disposed of when no longer needed.
The early 2000s yielded a flurry of electronic device legislation in the United States. But regulations haven’t kept up with product innovation. This has left manufacturers, retailers and handlers of electronic devices struggling to interpret older regulations and apply them to new products hitting the market.
For example, there are no federal regulations for how TVs, computers, monitors, computer peripherals, and printers should be sold, handled and disposed of. That said, half of US states have implemented their own regulations for electronics covering these devices, known formally as “Covered Electronic Devices (CEDs)”.
It’s imperative for manufacturers and retailers to understand state requirements, and each state’s requirements differ slightly. For example, in South Carolina, TVs that are sold for less than $100 are exempt from the CED requirements. While in Pennsylvania, manufacturers who only make computer peripherals (and no other device type) are exempt from requirements. Companies have needed to stay on top of regulations, including local nuances, to avoid being fined for shipping or disposing of products in the wrong way.
This is where Smarter Sorting comes to the rescue. We know the rules. We also know the individual makeup of millions of consumer products. We can accurately identify the right product classification, instantly.
In our State-level Requirements for Selling Covered Electronic Devices white paper, we examine all applicable requirements for selling CEDs and break down how manufacturers and retailers can confidently navigate the complex regulatory environment in order to get products to consumers, quickly and efficiently.
State-level requirements for selling CEDs - Smarter Sorting, May 2022
How to identify and handle hidden lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are notoriously challenging for retailers to handle, especially at the End of Life (EOL). Adding to the frustration, many consumer products now have "hidden" lithium-ion batteries that are small, hard to find, or impossible to remove. A retail associate may not even know the lithium-ion battery is there and know to dispose of the product properly.
This problem has recently accelerated as more lithium-ion batteries and products containing them are being sold now than at any time. That means there are also more broken, outdated, or otherwise unwanted products that contain lithium-ion batteries entering the waste stream every day. When improperly disposed of, these batteries pose safety and compliance risks. For example, every year thousands of fires are started from defective or improperly disposed batteries.
Retailers need to understand how to handle and dispose of products that contain lithium-ion batteries in a safe, compliant, and sustainable way. At a high-level, lithium-ion batteries should generally be handled as Universal Waste. While the rules for Universal Waste are less stringent compared to other regulated waste streams, it is important to understand that these items should NOT be treated like regular garbage.
Smarter Sorting recently teamed up with the Retail Industry Leaders Association to coauthor a blog post educating readers on this very problem. The blog post shares examples of product categories where lithium-ion batteries may be hidden or unexpected that retailers should be aware of so they can be handled appropriately.
Read the full article on the RILA blog.
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