Chris Cathcart, president, CSPA
For the past several years, the members of the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) have been an unusual lot. The group has taken the lead on a number of issues including Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform, and has formed alliances with outside groups such as the Sierra Club.
But the unorthodox approach has been fruitful, as membership has grown, battles on the state and federal level have been won and the association has managed to thrive despite the economic downturn.
“CSPA has looked beyond the obvious, that’s how we survived for 100 years,” noted chairman Adam Selisker of CRC Industries in his address to CSPA members at the Mid-Year Meeting in Chicago last month.
“No one looked beyond the obvious at first,” Selisker told the audience, “but once they broke through the parameters of the obvious they were successful.”
In his address to members, CSPA President Chris Cathcart observed that the membership has an unusual amount of energy, which may explain how attendance at the meeting exceeded 2009 levels and how membership in CSPA has grown to 243 companies.
“We all, at CSPA, have a passion,” he told the audience, “and we have a reputation as an honest broker that is receptive to new ideas.”
This reputation serves the association well in Washington DC, as well as in state legislatures around the U.S., and agencies around the world. Over the years, CSPA has managed to cobble together a wide range of groups, including other trade associations and non-government organizations (NGOs), to create effective chemical management policy.
For example, to reform TSCA, CSPA is working with environmental groups as well as members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
In Architecture, Size Doesn’t Matter
Skyscrapers are attention getters, to be sure, but keynote speaker Danny Forster, architect and host of Discovery Channel’s “Build It Bigger,” told CSPA members to see past the measuring tape and consider how a building fits into its surroundings and reflects the culture that surrounds it. No wonder then, that Forster doesn’t think much of the world’s tallest structure, the Birj Dubai Tower in Dubai, which soars nearly 2,700 feet.
“There is nothing about the United Arab Emirates in that building,” he told the audience. “Why does being taller make anything better? Does it teach us anything about the place?”
Instead, Forster spoke glowingly of buildings such as Trump Tower in downtown Chicago, the Abu Dahbi Grand Prix hotel in Abu Dahbi and the Hancock Tower at Copley Place in Boston—three diverse buildings, but all of them speak of the time, the climate and the people who built them, according to Forster.
This willingness to work with leaders from both political parties has made CSPA a sought-after association with opinions that are eagerly wanted, according to Cathcart. In fact, a representative from the office of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was expected to sit in on a CSPA board meeting following the Mid-Year Meeting. Sen. Lautenberg is currently sponsoring a bill that could have far-reaching consequences for the chemical industry.
At the same time, CSPA is working with outside organizations to convince consumers about the safety of the consumer products it represents, while at the same time, remaining sensitive to the importance of trade secrets. Most recently, the association worked with EPA on its Design for the Environment (DfE) program.
“Without doing these kinds of things, we’ll end up having 50 states with their own policies,” observed Cathcart. “The Sierra Club and the NRDC are not our enemies. We can work together.”
Your energy, enthusiasm and passion will enable us to move forward together.
To get the message out about the benefits of its products, CSPA has built a strong communications team that uses traditional media as well as websites, tweets and other forms of communication to connect with consumers. For example, the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, has taken the lead on several initiatives including inhalation abuse, poison control and wellness.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Aerosol Product Council (CAPCO) continues to spread the word that aerosols are CFC-free. Other moves by the association include DEET education, Product Ingredient Review and Consumer Specialties Insurance, all of them “unconventional programs,” according to Cathcart.
“Your energy, enthusiasm and passion will enable us to move forward together,” concluded Cathcart.
Aerosol’s Changing Climate
For years, the Aerosol division of CSPA has battled public misperceptions that aerosols contain chlorofluorocarbons. That fight continues, but in recent years, division members have found themselves grappling with issues such as sustainable development, retailer relationships and climate change. All of these issues, and several others, were the topic of discussion at last month’s division meeting, which was moderated by Charlie Ortmann of Diversified CPC.
Marci Recher, Environmental Packaging International, reviewed regulatory and retailer trends that are impacting packaging. For example, she noted that producers are increasingly taking responsibility for packaging at the post-consumer stage of a product’s life, while recycling responsibilities are moving from the public to the private sector. At the same time, local governments are hungry for income and are imposing heavy fees for package recycling.
Aerosol Fillings Slip 2.1% in 2009
Aerosol fillings fell 2.1% to 3.568 billion units last year, according to the results of the 59th annual Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey. Despite the decline, the total represented the sixth highest year for U.S. aerosol production, with North America maintaining a one-third market share of global aerosol production. Personal care and household products rank as the two strongest product categories respectively, despite declines in both.
“Considering the state of our economy, aerosol product production remains strong,” said CSPA president Chris Cathcart. “The technology has allowed for creative ways to deliver products in this practical and easy to use form.”
The survey, which reports the unit volume of aerosols filled and shipped for domestic use in 2009, as well as estimates for Canadian and Mexican production, has served for more than half a century as the primary index of the business strength of the aerosol products industry, according to CSPA. The survey was released during CSPA’s Mid-Year Meeting in Chicago. Illinois is the aerosol capitol of the United States, producing 35% of all aerosol products made in the U.S.
The survey estimates overall unit production of 3.568 billion aerosols in the U.S. for 2009. This represents a 2.1% decrease from 2008, which was the fifth highest year for production at 3.643 billion units. 2005 was the highest year with 3.738 billion. CSPA estimates total North American aerosol production in 2009 as 3.994 billion units, representing a 1.2% decline from 2008.
“It’s the perfect storm,” noted Recher. “States have no money, material prices are low and consumer product groups want their packaging recycled.”
The good news for the aerosol industry is that more local governments are adding aerosols to their recyclable materials list.
Another issue for the industry is revisions to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides.” The FTC is currently considering banning words such as “sustainable” and “renewable” as being too general. FTC is also considering addressing carbon offsets. However, after surveying consumers, the agency has not announced a timeline for new guides.
Finally, Walmart’s Sustainability Scorecard, launched in 2008, will have an impact on packaging material type, weight, distribution and efficiency. According to Recher, while the scorecard is promoted for its environmental benefits, it also gives the retailer a general idea of the impact packaging changes have on cost. Using this data, Walmart will be able to squeeze even more savings out of its suppliers, noted Recher.
Kevin Fay, a principal with Alcade & Fay, reviewed current climate change policy in the U.S. Specifically, he reviewed a tripartisan bill proposed by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Liebermann (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), that would reduce greenhouse gases 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
However, the introduction of the bill has been delayed and Sen. Graham even withdrew his name from co-sponsorship. Still there is plenty of other climate change legislation being bandied about in Congress, including Senate Bill 2877 and House Bill 2454, which has passed in the House, but has since lost momentum, according to Fay.
Ralph Kowalik, ExxonMobil, urged the audience to consider not environmental sustainability, but sustainable development. He noted that when energy efficiency is improved, it could have a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But he warned that while environmental groups have touted the benefits of new materials such as PLA, petrochemical feedstocks are expected to account for 98% of global plastic production to 2030. Furthermore, he noted that when rigorous lifecycle assessment studies are conducted, so-called “green” solutions, such as biodiesel, do not score as well as petrochemicals.
“Science-based solutions that consider full lifecycle impact are key,” he concluded. “The industry has a role in shaping the debate around this issue.”
In a presentation on new product development, Judy Albazi and Alan Howarth of Chase Products reviewed the company’s Absolutes of Quality Management, as well as some of the innovations that have been developed by Chase Products, such as an ergonomic aerosol container and an aerosol can that holds a towel for I&I cleaning. Most recently, Chase has introduced Green World, a line of cleaners that are propellant-free and have earned the EPA’s Design for the Environment certification.
CSPA’s Doug Fratz gave an overview of regulations that are having an impact on the aerosol industry. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed new volatile organic chemical (VOC) limits on a wide range of consumer products. For example, VOC limits for heavy-duty hand cleaner would fall from 8% to 1% by Dec. 31, 2012. VOC limits for spot removers would fall from 15% to 3% and furniture maintenance products would drop from 17% to 10%.
CSPA has already commented on the proposal and expects to wrap-up negotiations in August. CARB will then issue its proposed rule by Oct. 1 and adopt the rule by November 18.
Fratz also warned that CARB enforcement is increasing. It collected $875,000 in 2004, but in just the first few months of 2010, CARB collected $2.55 million.
“It’s profit center,” he noted.
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