SDA Tackles Global Regulatory Issues

March 3, 2009

As the economy slows, regulatory activity picks up in the U.S. and around the world.

SDA Tackles Global Regulatory Issues

As the economy slows, regulatory activity picks up in the U.S. and around the world.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director

Unlike so many other sectors of the economy, the soap and detergent industry has held up well in the face of a growing recession. No wonder then, that the Soap and Detergent Association was able to do more than put on a brave face at its annual meeting; SDA members actually put their best foot forward during the annual meeting which was held Jan. 27-31 in Boca Raton, FL. More than 550 industry executives attended the annual meeting, which was dedicated to sustainability and featured presentations on major regulatory issues.

Industry suppliers insisted that while business levels may have been off a bit from the highs enjoyed in recent years, sales still remained good and innovation continues apace. (To read more about supplier views and activities, turn to p. 96 in this issue).

SDA also said goodbye to Boca Raton Resort & Club at the conclusion of the 83rd annual meeting. Next year’s meeting will be held at the Grande Lakes Orlando, Jan. 26-30, 2010 (see p. 94).

The annual meeting opened with a session on international regulations, moderated by Ernie Rosenberg, president and chief executive officer, SDA. In his remarks, Mr. Rosenberg reviewed the status of the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). However, he noted that GHS is not a priority for the Environmental Protection Agency and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is understaffed and lacking four of five commissioners. Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently reviewing proposed amendments to GHS, but adoption could be held up by leadership changes, according to Mr. Rosenberg.

Elsewhere, the UN GHS subcommittee continues to develop and revise GHS. The good news for industry is that the subcommittee adopted a favorable U.S. approach for sensitization classification as well as sound approaches for chronic aquatic hazard labeling.

In other parts of the world, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) formed a “virtual” group on GHS implementation under its Chemicals Dialogue. The group is currently surveying APEC members on implementation plans, while a project, led by Japan, will develop GHS guidance for consumer products. A draft guidance for human health endpoints is under review, as are risk-based labeling for chronic effects.

Jack Linard of Unilever Earns Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Jack Linard, a longtime researcher and scientist for Unilever, received the 2009 The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) Elva Walker Spillane Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes extensive or exceptional service to SDA and the exercise of outstanding leadership within the Association.

Dr. Linard has worked for Unilever for nearly 26 years in a variety of research and development assignments, primarily in the laundry category, and provided leadership related to public policy in the areas of health and environmental safety. He began his involvement with the SDA in the early 1990s, initially through his participation in the Consumer Education Committee’s work on high efficiency laundering.

Dr. Linard also served as the first chairperson of SDA’s Strategic Advisory Committee and was the co-chair of the International Committee for many years. He also has been a member of the Association’s Environmental Fate and Effects Subcommittee, the Public Relations Committee, Ingredient Communication Task Force and Green Guides Workgroup.

“If the term ‘sweat equity’ had a picture, it would be a portrait of Jack Linard,” said Ernie Rosenberg, SDA president and CEO. “Jack has contributed so much to SDA’s expertise, industry leadership, knowledge and reputation. He has been and continues to be a greatly valued resource to SDA and all of our members."

Dr. Jack Linard
Dr. Linard’s current responsibilities with Unilever include the management of Unilever R&D’s regulatory compliance activities, external issues impacting Unilever on both a North American and global scale and the management of Unilever’s Institutional Review Board in the U.S. Additionally, he has been an active participant in Wal-Mart’s Chemical Intensive Products Sustainability Network since its inception in October 2005.
Mr. Rosenberg also told the audience that the Second International Confer-ence on Chemicals Management (ICCM2) will be held in Geneva in May. During the event, international cleaning product associations will highlight the industry’s efforts in the areas of chemical management, product stewardship and other sustainability activities and programs.

Mr. Rosenberg also gave a presentation on behalf of Shannon Coombs, president of the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA), who was unable to attend the meeting.

Mr. Rosenberg lauded Canada’s efforts by stating “Canada is leading the world in chemical management.”

In fact, he insisted that the Canadian program made the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Montebello/SPP program possible. Within that program, the U.S. component is the Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP).

Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan has reviewed 23,000 existing substances and found that approximately 4000 substances need further screening assessment. Approximately 500 of them were listed as priorities and 197 are being pursued as “high” priorities.

“There are chemicals in this batch that affect us, especially in personal care,” asserted Mr. Rosenberg.

Regarding other issues, regulations for volatile organic compounds were to be proposed by the end of the first quarter. In the meantime, CCSPA is working to ensure that Canadian VOC regulation is in harmony with U.S. EPA. Also, Canada’s Hazardous Products Act is being revised due to the pressures of recalls on imported consumer products. The Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act will contain regulations for consumer product labeling.

In urging attendees to join CCSPA, Mr. Rosenberg noted that Canada has a huge impact on the U.S. and the globalization of chemical management.

“Lobbying in Ottawa can’t be done by Americans,” he observed.

What’s New in Europe?

Following Mr. Rosenberg’s remarks, attention turned toward Europe, as attendees heard from Sylvie Lemoine, director of technical and regulatory affairs at AISE, the international Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, which is the official industry representative in Europe.

Industry leaders gather at SDA (l-r.): Mike Parkington, VP-laundry, Unilever; SDA chairman Frank Sherman, president and general manager, surface chemistry, Akzo Nobel; Keith Weed, group VP-homecare and hygiene, Unilever; and SDA board member Bill Littlefield, executive vice president and general manager of branded products, Sun Products Corp.
The group is developing sustainability profiles that, when completed, will provide environmental safety parameters that are based on risk assessment principles. At the same time, the group is leading six laundry sustainability projects with the aim to promote compaction of household laundry detergents.

Other AISE developments include the recent launch of www.cleanright.com, a website that aims to become the reference point for European consumers on household cleaning and maintenance projects.

Ms. Lemoine also explained to the audience that the EU’s Ecodesign program, with its recently amended directive that extends the scope from “energy-using” products to “energy-related” products, could impact the cleaning industry by 2012. She warned too, that the EU’s Ecolabel program, a voluntary initiative designed to encourage green products, lacks a full life-cycle dimension, relies on hazard-based criteria and is out of date relative to technological advances. To effectively confront the Ecolabel initiative, Ms. Lemoine said AISE needs to remain proactive and credible with its own initiatives.

Although REACH pre-registration was completed in December, Ms. Lemoine noted that “significant uncertainties” remain regarding registration scope and exemption; i.e., ionic mixtures. Other stumbling blocks include a lack of guidance documents and diverging interpretations among member states.

Elsewhere, although there are no EU regulations on phosphates, there are scattered and increasingly stringent restrictions at the national level. For its part, AISE favors EU regulation on household laundry products, but wants to keep options open to use phosphates in ADW and I&I applications.

News from Japan

Shigeo Ishii of the Japanese Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA) brought attendees up-to-date on the issues confronting JSDA. One of its key activities last year was the voluntary effort to reduce plastic use per unit volume by 30% (vs. 1995) by 2010. Initial results from 2007 reduced the total amount of plastic used by 11.7% and the use per unit volume by 31.8%.

Also last year, JSDA developed GHS guidance documents for classification and labeling and is currently considering environmental endpoints. At the same time, the Association is closely monitoring changes to the Pollutant Release, Transfer and Register system as class 1 and 2 lists have changed, but no amendments have been issued.

An Update on Fragrance

Ladd Smith, president of the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), provided an overview of current activities in the fragrance sector and raised several interesting questions regarding fragrance usage. For example how common is fragrance allergy in the general population? To learn more, RIFM is using quantitative risk assessment with the goal of eliminating fragrance allergy in the general population.

Meanwhile, RIFM developed its respiratory science program to gain understanding about the physiological effects of exposure to fragrance materials inhaled from consumer products when used as intended.

To help the industry find answers to these issues and other issues, last year RIFM gave non-members access to its database.

U.S. Issues & Answers

While the international regulatory scene is fraught with questions, the U.S. industry faces many challenges on the home front. In a special issues briefing session, the SDA staff reviewed the status of key issues facing the industry.

SDA Adds Two to Board

The Soap and Detergent Association elected two new members to its board during the annual meeting: William Littlefield, executive vice president and general manager of branded products, The Sun Products Corporation, and Janice Mabe, vice president, intermediates Americas, Huntsman Corp.

Mr. Littlefield’s and Ms. Mabe’s appointments followed the election of two other top executives to the SDA Board, who became directors last year: Dr. Larry Berger, senior vice president and chief technical officer, Ecolab Inc. and Noel Wallace, president, Colgate U.S., Colgate-Palmolive Company.

Also at its annual meeting, the board voted on the following slate of SDA officers for 2009. Board Chair: Frank Sherman, president and general manager, surfactants, Akzo Nobel; Board Vice Chair: Jane Hutterly, executive vice president, worldwide corporate & environmental affairs, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.; SDA President: Ernie Rosenberg, SDA president & CEO; SDA Treasurer: Larry Peiros, COO, North America, The Clorox Company and Corporate Secretary: Michelle Radecki, SDA general counsel.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Rosenberg noted that the new Administration is dominated by Californians who are likely to reflect California policies. Moreover, he said that cleaning products are among the most vulnerable to general chemical management legislation and regulation. It’s no wonder then, that the SDA is opposed to state-by-state chemical management and undue targeting of consumer products.

Instead, the association favors a federal approach and is trying to foster a risk-based, comprehensive effort. More specifically, SDA advocates the EPA’s ChAMP system even as it defends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which faces reform this year under a new Administration. Dennis Griesing, VP-government affairs, SDA, explained that many environmentalists oppose federal preemption under TSCA, because they favor legislation at the state level that, in turn, may be used as a precedent for federal implementation.

Also this year, SDA is working to prevent new and expanded biofuel credits, modify the Renewable Fuel Standard as it relates to fats and seek exclusion of fats from broad feedstock definitions, according to Mr. Griesing.

Regarding Environmentally Prefer-able Products (EPP), the SDA last year defeated legislation in California, Maryland, Virginia and Washington. But the fight continues as new EPP Procurement legislation is shaping up in South Carolina and Washington and is expected in Alabama, Tennessee, New Jersey and Oregon. At the federal level, House Bill HR58 (Green School Act) has been sponsored by representatives from Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Brian Sansoni, VP-communications and membership at SDA, told the audience that despite efforts by the industry, “product categories, brands and ingredients remain under attack” from a variety of sources including anti-chemical activists, academics and sympathetic reporters. Many of the most ardent foes are working toward outright bans, restrictions and mandatory ingredient labeling.

To combat these threats, the SDA has worked to get media placement explaining the safety and benefits of cleaning products and ingredients. The SDA message, according to Mr. Sansoni, is based on sound science and can be found on one of the Association’s websites: www.CleaningProductFacts.com.

Next Year: Orlando!

The SDA convention moves to Grande Lakes Orlando next year. The annual meeting will take place Jan. 26-30.

The property includes a JW Marriott, a Ritz-Carlton and more than 147,000 square feet of flexible indoor meeting space, as well as onsite golf, spa, eco-tours and a fly-fishing school.

“The SDA convention is the cleaning product industry’s premier forum for business interaction and networking. Choosing the right place for our members’ meetings, as well as for the Association’s own events, was critical,” said Ernie Rosenberg. president, SDA, in explaining the move.
SDA has worked closely with media during the past year to counter misinformation. In fact, SDA was featured on the Today Show to counter the one-sided attack on traditional cleaning products put forth by author Sloan Barnett, who wrote Green Goes With Everything. Similarly, when the environmental group Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) attacked SDA member companies’ labeling and ingredients, the Association was there to reinforce the industry’s message on product safety as well as its commitment to R&D and safety testing, explained Mr. Sansoni.

Finally, SDA provided a strong voice for industry on the subject of sustainability by forming strategic partnerships and alliances, creating successful educational programs and providing effective and timely response to requests.