The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced that it plans to begin fieldwork on EPA’s Safer Choice program. According to OIG, its objectives are to identify and assess the controls that EPA has in place to verify that the Safer Choice program meets its goals and achieves quality standards through its product qualification, renewal, and required audit process. OIG states that Safer Choice “is a voluntary labeling program that helps consumers and commercial buyers find chemical-based products that are safer for human health and the environment.” OIG plans to conduct work at headquarters and at various third-party assessor and auditor locations. It will use applicable generally accepted government auditing standards in conducting its audit. The anticipated benefits of the audit “are reducing the use of chemicals of concern and empowering consumers to protect their health.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 25, 2019, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) recognized fourteen Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners for their outstanding achievements in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals for use in households and facilities nationwide. Representing businesses, including woman-owned, small- and medium-sized, local government, and associations, winners from across 12 states and the District of Columbia were recognized.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on June 28, 2019, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice Program is accepting submissions for its 2019 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. The Safer Choice Program partners with businesses and others to help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, “without sacrificing quality or performance.” Toward this end, according to EPA, the Safer Choice Program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the Program’s “specific and rigorous human health and environmental toxicological criteria.” The Safer Choice Program allows the use of its label on products that perform and contain safer ingredients, as determined by expert evaluation. According to EPA, recognition by the Safer Choice Program represents a high level of achievement in formulating products that are safer for people and the environment. EPA states that the purpose of the Partner of the Year Awards “is to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals.” All Safer Choice stakeholders and Program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. According to the notice, interested parties must inform the Program that they would like to be considered for an award and submit supporting information. Submissions are due July 31, 2019. EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony in fall 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

A coalition will be launched on June 1, 2018, that intends to ensure that Safer Choice will continue to exist as a federal program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to improve the program so that it operates in the most effective way possible for all stakeholders.  The Coalition will comprise companies throughout the chemical value chain -- chemical manufacturers, consumer product companies, and retailers -- as well as non-governmental organizations (NGO).  Benjamin E. Dunham, a Senior Policy Advisor at Holland & Knight LLP, and former Hill staffer, announced the new coalition at EPA’s May 14, 2018, Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit.  During the summit, industry representatives called for expanding Safer Choice to additional sectors.  EPA staff did not address this suggestion, however, stating instead that they will continue core efforts and urging industry to help with outreach.  Clive Davies, Chief of EPA’s Design for the Environment, stated that there are “activities that we’re going to have to cut back on and activities we’re going to have to maintain at full strength,” noting declining resources.  Davies requested industry input on aspects of Safer Choice that are most important to retain.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was seeking applications for the 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards in a notice in the Federal Register.  At the 2018 Partner of the Year Awards, Safer Choice will recognize stakeholder organizations from five broad categories:

  • Formulators/Product Manufacturers of both Consumer and Institutional/Industrial products;
  • Purchasers and Distributors;
  • Retailers;
  • Supporters (e.g., non-governmental organizations); and
  • Innovators (e.g., chemical manufacturers).

EPA states it developed the Partner of the Year Awards to recognize Safer Choice stakeholders “who have advanced the goals of the Pollution Prevention Act by reducing pollution at its source through safer chemistry.”  All applications and accompanying materials must be received by Wednesday, June 27, 2018.  Award winners will be recognized at a ceremony in the fall of 2018See alsoEPA To Hold Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit 2018."  More information is available in our memorandum “ACS GCI Announces Opening of 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards; EPA Announces Opening of 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA recently announced that it will be hosting a Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit on May 14, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, that will “build off of the previous Summits, exploring topics of importance to stakeholders and the program. The Summit will include informational sessions, and also breakout sessions with a focus on dialogue and developing solutions that can advance Safer Choice.”  Registration is available online. See alsoEPA Seeking Applications For 2018 Safer Choice Partner Of The Year Awards.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the third Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit 2018 in a Federal Register notice. The Summit is open to all Safer Choice program partners and stakeholders, and will include informational and breakout sessions, with a focus on dialogue and problem-solving. The event is being held on May 14, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) in Oxon Hill, MD. Registration is available online.


 

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the Federal Register that an information collection request (ICR) had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding consultations on the Safer Choice logo redesign.  Following the launch of the new Safer Choice logo, EPA plans to conduct consumer surveys to gauge consumer recognition of the new logo and to determine whether the new logo and educational activities are changing purchasing decisions.  This ICR was previously published as part of a public review opportunity in the Federal Register on November 3, 2016, and did not receive any comments.  With this Notice, there will be an additional 30 days of review as comments are due by April 5, 2017.    


 

On January 24, 2017, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump to express its commitment to working with Trump and his administration and to outline its top priorities, including the continuation of EPA’s Safer Choice Program.  In the letter, CSPA states that companies have made significant financial and employee investments to develop products that qualify for the Safer Choice logo and to market the products as Safer Choice products.  CSPA requested that Trump support the voluntary program, arguing that elimination of it would negate the innovation that resulted from the costly efforts.  In addition to continuing the program, the letter suggests that EPA expand the Safer Choice Program to include antimicrobial products that meet the criteria as long as they are not specifically prohibited from using the logo under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).


 

During the Safer Choice Partner and Stakeholder Summit on November 15- 16, 2016, EPA announced that new product categories were under consideration for the Safer Choice chemical program, including arts and crafts, home improvements, food grade and marine lubricants, and paints and coatings. EPA invited suggestions from participants regarding additional product categories to consider; Summit participants were supportive of an increase to the number of chemicals, products, and product categories in the program.  A stakeholder noted that many paint manufacturers already sell paints with low volatile organic chemical (VOC) emissions but the Safer Choice label could help retailers recognize the safer chemistries.
 
Other Summit participants urged chemical manufacturers to create new molecules that adhere to the Safer Choice Standard to replace chemicals in their current products, specifically preservatives. More information on the discussion regarding product category additions can be found in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Environmental Report (subscription required).


 
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