Live from California! The Safer Consumer Products Regulations Are Now In Effect

Posted on October 18, 2013 by Lynn L. Bergeson

The long awaited and highly controversial California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Safer Consumer Products Regulations (SCPR) took effect October 1, 2013.  These are not your garden variety regulations.  They are intended to promote the inclusion in consumer products of chemicals deemed safer than the chemicals they are replacing and, by reverse logic, encourage the deselection of chemicals for inclusion in consumer products believed to pose risk to human health and the environment.

The regulations establish a four-step process whereby DTSC develops a list of candidate chemicals of concern, develops a list of “Priority Products” containing candidate chemicals, requires manufactures and other responsible entities to notify DTSC and assess potential product component alternatives, and implements regulatory responses that could result in mandated product reformulation or even product cancellation.  Certain “trade secret” provisions in the regulations are still being developed, important provisions considering the context of the regulations.

DTSC has created a Safer Consumer Products Web Portal and has posted, and will continue to add, information pertinent to the regulations and various guidance materials.  Litigation challenging the regulations is almost certain, arising under the California Environmental Protection Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and Commerce Clause, among other authorities.  Relying on a favorable outcome in any such challenge and doing nothing now is unwise, as success is at best speculative and more likely optimistic.

These are game-changing new rules.  They are certain to have a global impact on, and influence profoundly and forever, the supply chains of consumer product manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors.  Because the regulations are likely to become the new global standard against which prudent business practices regarding the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of consumer products will be measured, careful review is needed regardless of whether or not you are marketing consumer products in California.

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