“No other association provides this type of forum,” asserted ACI president and CEO Melissa Hockstad. “Our theme this year, Transforming Clean, underscores the fact that our industry is in a major transformational period, featuring new innovations. We are poised to lead our industry during this transformation.”
January is often the time when people resolve to transform their lives, and key issues to the cleaning industry are undergoing change as well. Consumers are demanding more information about their cleaning products and Hockstad expects ingredient transparency will be top-of-mind for association members in 2019.
“Our industry has a good track record on transparency issues, going all the way back to 2010,” explained Hockstad. “Our members have gone above and beyond in getting ingredient information to the consumer.”
Eight years ago, ACI created the Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative, a comprehensive, voluntary program.
Clear on Transparency
At the state level, ACI was at the negotiating table in California and helped craft ingredient disclosure regulations that made the original bill better for its members. California requires disclosure of the presence of allergens and chemicals of concern directly on the product label, other ingredients like fragrance ingredients, intentionally-added ingredients, contaminants, and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers must be disclosed online on a manufacturer’s website.
New York Guidance, however, does not require ingredient listings on the product label, but requires online disclosure of ingredients. In addition to CAS numbers, contaminants, fragrance and intentionally-added ingredients, New York also requires the disclosure of nano-ingredients and health and safety data.
“New York is more problematic,” said Hockstad. “Some of the threshold levels are unrealistic. We went to Albany, but New York did not incorporate any industry feedback.”
ACI is guiding its members on how the disclosure rulings will impact their business, but Hockstad hopes that Federal rules on transparency can be crafted in 2019.
“It will be difficult, especially with Democrats in control of the House and Republicans in control of the Senate, but it is important for our members to avoid a patchwork of regulations.”
Following last month’s election, Washington DC is transforming…again and with Congress split between the two parties, ACI is monitoring implementation of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, which went into effect in December, 2016 and amended the Toxic Substances Control Act.
“Sometimes there are different interpretations (of the Act),” she told Happi. “We expect to see pushback from NGOs.”
ACI is also focused on ensuring funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice program.
At the state level, the association expects more activity in California, New York and Minnesota. There may be more, as state houses change tenants, but Hockstad said it is too soon after the election to provide an accurate analysis of state regulatory activities.
Several years ago, accidental ingestion of single use detergent packs was making headlines on a regular basis. But, in the two years since the release of ASTM F3159-15e (Consumer Safety Specification for Liquid Laundry Packets), the number of accidental ingestions are headed in the right direction, according to Hockstad.
More good news is coming for hand sanitizers and related products. ACI is conducting a multiyear study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these products. The US Food and Drug Administration continues to give ACI extensions to complete its work; the current one year extension expires in March, 2019, but Hockstad is confident that another extension will be granted to 2020.
“It is a $30 million project,” she explained. “Our technical team expects it could take until 2026 for completion.”
As it works to inform regulators about the safety and efficacy of its members’ products, ACI is working on several fronts to illustrate the benefits and innovative chemistries in cleaning products.
The ACI website is getting updated and, in June, the association hired Jessica Ek as director, digital communications, a new position within the organization. As ACI speaks to multiple audiences about the safety, benefits and sustainability of cleaning products, the association needs to be smarter than ever about how and where it delivers those messages in a rapidly-evolving communications marketplace, explained Hockstad. Prior to joining ACI, Ek was with the American Nurses Association, where she helped formulate and sustain the organization’s social media strategies, built and grew ANA’s social media channels and managed a major redesign project for the association’s website.
The moves come during a time when the internet is filled with outrageous headlines that exaggerate research findings on cleaning products, explained Brian Sansoni, VP-communications and outreach, ACI. For example, some of these click bait headlines include “Cleaning as Bad for Women’s Lungs as Smoking 20 Cigarettes a Day” and “Could Household Cleaners Make Your Kid Fat?”
“We want to counter that narrative and provide a more informed perspective,” explained Sansoni. “We don’t want the integrity of the industry to get hurt, and we want to remind folks about all the benefits of our products.”
A Busy Schedule
Those benefits will be front and center during ACI Convention Week, which starts Monday, Jan. 28 with the 10th annual Charity Golf Tournament. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, there is a special, members-only session devoted to ingredient transparency and communication, as well as an open global industry update session from sister association executives around the world.
On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the convention includes Man Up to Cleaning, an all-male consumer panel, sponsored by Takasago International, focused on men who play an active role in the household cleaning process. Later, ACI staff will provide an update on US legislative, regulatory and communication issues impacting the industry. Afterwards, attendees will head to the pool for the annual Quack for a Reason charity duck race followed by the ACI President’s Reception. Thursday, Jan. 31, gets off to a fast start with the Fifth Annual ACI Fun Run, followed by breakfast and industry awards and a presentation by Ken Schmidt, author and former communications strategist for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Later, ithere will be an educational forum and networking session.
The open portion of the Convention closes on Friday, Feb. 1 with a breakfast, annual meeting and Innovation & New Technology Showcase, where invited suppliers can present their latest products. The week concludes with closed board and committee meetings on February 1 and 2.
More info: www.cleaninginstitute.org