How HCPA Racks Up Wins At State & Federal Levels

How HCPA Racks Up Wins At State & Federal Levels

During its mid-year meeting, Household and Commercial Products Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira provides an update on federal and state legislative victories.

Tom Branna, Chief Content Officer

Legislation and regulation at the federal, state and local levels are increasingly challenging to navigate for producers and suppliers of household and commercial products. To meet these challenges, the Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA) continues to advocate for its members on a variety of issues, including implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

In March, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with arguments in an amicus brief that HCPA co-filed with the American Chemistry Council, CropLife America, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce in support of Inhance Technologies’ petition to review the Agency’s TSCA Section 5 Test Orders, said HCPA President and CEO Steve Caldeira. “This is a big win for the industry because it prevents a significant market disruption for products packaged in fluorinated containers.”

HCPA Chair Megan Lieb, VP-R&D, WD-40

Caldeira’s comments came during HCPA mid-year meeting in Washington, DC last month. The event attracted more than 300 attendees. To further strengthen and coordinate its efforts to work with the EPA on addressing concerns about regulatory inefficiencies, delays and scientific practices, HCPA joined two organizations, one led by Change Chemistry and the other by the American Industrial Hygiene Association, to further strengthen and coordinate efforts to work with the EPA on addressing concerns about regulatory inefficiencies, delays and scientific practices.

“Between chemical restrictions, the California mill assessment, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, Household Hazardous Waste requirements and pesticide restrictions, there is something seemingly new every day that demands our attention,” said Caldeira.  

As a result, HCPA devoted even more resources into its state government relations and public policy efforts, including an Advocacy Day in Sacramento, CA at the beginning of April. He noted that laws in California often dictate activity across the country, so HCPA collaborates closely with policymakers to ensure the industry’s interests are fairly represented.

For example, HCPA’s EVP-Government Relations & Public Policy Mike Gruber and Christopher Finarelli, senior director, state government relations and public policy (Western Region), facilitated meetings in the California State Assembly and Senate to address the proposed mill assessment increase and the need for pesticide registration timelines to be codified in law. There was also a productive discussion with Senator Ben Allen, chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, and author of California’s EPR packaging law. However, during the event, a bill was introduced that intends to limit the use of nearly 60 different ingredients in air care products. 

“We were able to use this opportunity to discuss the consequences of this bill with key legislators, including members of the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee,” noted Caldeira. “It is these unique and collaborative relationships that make HCPA such a successful advocate for the industry and allow us to find commonsense solutions to issues.”

HCPA continues to engage with states on PFAS legislation, but its goal remains to establish a national, science-based approach to addressing this issue. To achieve that goal requires an accurate and consistent definition of PFAS, rather than an overly broad class approach that can lead to unjustified product restrictions, according to Caldeira. It also requires validated testing methodologies and considerations for product categories for which viable alternatives to PFAS are not readily available, like floor waxes and polishes.

Caldeira promised attendees that HCPA will continue to advocate for consistent requirements across the country to avoid redundant layers of rules that cause confusion over material scope, testing, and compliance protocols.

Insecticides and More

Another area that has necessitated attention at the state level is the restriction of insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and neonicotinoids (neuroactive insecticides). HCPA’s Gruber and Michelle Kopa, senior director, state government relations and public policy (East Region) defeated or mitigated several of these proposals that would prevent consumers from responsibly using pesticide products. As part of these efforts, HCPA has been working to ensure that any revenues from increased pesticide registration fees are dedicated to supporting initiatives that benefit registrants.

HCPA’s Floor Care Products Division recently met with commissioners from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding a petition that mandates testing and labeling regarding the slip resistance of commercial and residential grade floor coverings, floor coatings and treatments, and commercial and residential floor cleaning agents. 

“Unfortunately, the petition lacks demonstrated benefits to the consumer and undermines the industry’s longstanding commitment to safety,” said Caldeira. “HCPA is committed to working with the Commission to develop science-based strategies that further promote consumer safety and reducing slip-and-fall incidents.”

EPR and HHW Efforts

As Vermont proceeds with the establishment of the first EPR program for household hazardous waste in the US, HCPA took the initiative to identify an entity capable of and willing to serve as the Producer Responsibility Organization, or PRO. HCPA is committed to ensuring that a functional program is implemented in Vermont and a smooth transition for the industry as compliance deadlines loom.

Four states are implementing EPR programs for packaging, in addition to three states with post-consumer recycled content requirements. To help members prepare for packaging EPR implementation, HCPA is launching a series of readiness education modules and associated guidance documents. HCPA’s Molly Blessing, VP-sustainability and product stewardship, has been involved with efforts to eliminate packaging waste without incentivizing meaningful recycling, reuse, refill and source reduction activities that improve packaging circularity.

Through the Sustainability & Product Stewardship Council, HCPA has engaged on environmental marketing claims activity, including implementation of California’s Truth in Labeling law, which identifies what products and packaging may carry a recyclable claim.

According to research published by the Aerosol Recycling Initiative, aerosols can provide significant benefits to communities, the economy and the environment when incorporated as part of a broader waste management system that includes “reduce and reuse.”

Caldeira said a 50% recycling rate of aerosols generates more than $39 million each year.

“Environmentally, recycling just one aerosol can could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of driving half a mile in the average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle or charging 13 smartphones,” he added.

HCPA’s Georges and Blessing will lead the second phase of this campaign along with Scott Breen from the Can Manufacturers Institute. They will engage material recovery facilities on aerosol recycling access and collaborate with companies that manufacture and sell aerosol products through a task force to make certain label changes, including language on recyclability and how to recycle. 

In addition to this work in the US, Georges regularly collaborates with allied trade associations around the world on the industry’s priority issues. Caldeira pointed out that Georges was recently in Sydney, Australia to meet with representatives from Accord (the Australian industry association representing manufacturers and suppliers of hygiene, personal care and specialty products, their raw material suppliers and service providers) to discuss chemicals of concern, digital labeling, plastics and volatile organic compound (VOC) activity. Back in the US, Caldeira warned that the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which regulates consumer products based on VOC emissions, may utilize photochemical reactivity as the new standard. HCPA is working with CARB staff on how this might impact member companies’ products.

“This is only a small piece of what we do on a day-to-day basis to support your business and the industry,” Caldeira concluded.  “It would be impossible to accomplish so much without the engagement and knowledge of our dedicated and passionate members, who do so much to support the association. Thank you for your ongoing support, and we look forward to continue working with all of you moving forward for the balance of 2024.”

The benefits of listening

HCPA Chair Meghan Lieb, VP-global R&D, WD-40 Company, noted that the Association is a leader on household hazardous waste and extended producer responsibility.

“The HCPA staff is working on EPR issues in Colorado, California and Maine,” she told attendees. “Molly Blessing has done a great job on EPR and product stewardship. And the aerosol recycling initiative represents a great partnership that underscores the importance of aerosol can recycling. I’d like to thank Steve Caldeira and the entire HCPA staff.” Lieb also introduced keynote speaker Evy Poumpouras, a first responder on 911 and former special agent, US Secret Service. Poumpouras is author of “Becoming Bulletproof: Protect Yourself, Read People, Influence Situations, Live Fearlessly.” 

“If you can master people, you can master anything,” she told attendees. But to do that, one must be a good listener. 

“Open your eyes and listen. Feel their energy. Your intuition will tell you things before your brain will,” she explained.

She urged attendees to follow the 80/20 rule (spend 80% of the time listening and 20% talking). It’s a skill that works during interrogations and business meetings.

“Master the art of shutting up. Let them tell you what matters, before dropping your questions. Let them tell you a story.”

Poumpouras suggested putting away cellphones. “As a secret service agent, I never saw a president hold a phone when he spoke to anyone. During the Bush presidency, if your phone went off, you were sent home,” she recalled. “Put the phone away. We don’t tell people how important they are, we show them. Putting the  phone away shows people you are present.”

And once present, don’t let your body language undermine your objective. According to Poumpouras, communication means 55% body language and 38% voice/tone. As a result, the spoken word accounts for only 7% of a conversation.

She suggested maintaining eye contact—but not a creepy death stare. “Eye contact conveys trust. It says you matter and I matter,” Poumpouras explained.

As for body language, she urged attendees to be frontally aligned, it demonstrates you’re open to receive good and bad news. “Hands out and open tells us there are no threat,” said Poumpouras. “Hands concealed are a threat—remember, we don’t tell people, we show them. What matters least is what you’re saying.”

When it is time to talk, own your voice. If you don’t project, people don’t believe what you say. According to Poumpouras, those who win political office have a deep tone. It signals, “this person knows what they are talking about.”

And what’s there to talk about? She suggested keeping conversations to three points—not 20. “People lose attention. Too much information is too much information,” she said.

It’s all part of building trust, which is critical to success. Poumpouras pointed out that oxytocin levels increase when people trust one another.

“Warmth and competence are the two traits all leaders have,” she explained. “There’s nothing worse than people being afraid to tell you something. If people are afraid, I’ll get no intel or bad intel.”

That means being non-judgmental regardless of the situation. Poumpouras lost friends in 911, but she didn’t let that cloud her interrogations.

“It wasn’t about me; I wanted to build a relationship. Don’t insert your ego. Protect your brand. You either build trust or kill trust,” Poumpouras said.

At the same time, she warned not to become overly friendly, or you’ll get rolled. In fact, Poumpouras told attendees they should be able to count their real friends on one hand. 

“You want to be empathetic, not friendly.”

As for competence, if you don’t know something, admit it. Tell the subject you’ll get back to them—and do it.

Poumpouras urged attendees to work for high competence and high warmth. Without warmth, you lose people. Without competence, people will pity you. No warmth and no competence? People look at you with disgust and exclude you.

“Where are people putting you? You can work hard, but if people view you a different way, it’s not effective,” she said.

Poumpouras reiterated that people show how they feel about you. Stop talking, adjust and don’t take anything personally.

“When you do this, you’ll have less conflict; terrorists hugged me at the end of interviews,” she recalled. “Warmth and competence will help you in whatever you do.”

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