We all knew that U.S. chemicals policy reform was coming… Europe made the first move, with its sweeping new laws governing the design, production and use of chemicals in products (primarily REACH), and now the US is following.
On April 15th Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. This legislation aims to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), by requiring companies to prove the chemicals it uses are safe, rather than presuming such substances are safe until proven dangerous. California passed similar legislation in 2008.
What this new legislation means is that companies will need to start communicating and exchanging data up and down the supply chain, including providing chemical suppliers with information on how they are using their chemical products. There are several approaches that companies are taking to obtain and analyze this chemical information for both regulatory compliance and for use in business decision-making.
The first approach is for the chemical users to expand upon the chemical information software they already have, to provide more detailed information on chemical usage. This puts the burden of chemical information management upon the customer to coordinate among the hundreds or thousands of chemical suppliers to provide usage data.
Another more proactive approach we’ve seen in industry is called chemical management services (CMS). The basic concept is that a customer engages a Tier 1 chemical provider to optimize their chemical supply chain and reduce chemical use, costs and environmental impact. The Tier 1 chemical provider is compensated for providing chemical management services and for not selling chemical product, thereby financially aligning both parties to reduce chemical use and cost. Currently implemented 12 industry sectors, including automotive, aerospace, government, biotech and utilities, we’re finding that this CMS approach provides a robust infrastructure to better track chemical information.
As the new legislation makes its way through Congress, how are you beginning to prepare for TSCA reauthorization? Has the new legislation in California already changed the way you work? We’d love to hear from both manufacturers as well as chemical users.
Jill Kauffman Johnson is executive director of the Chemical Strategies Partnership (CSP), a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting chemical use and cost reduction through better supply chain management. CSP will share case studies of successful CMS programs and the latest on TSCA reform at its 13th Annual CMS Workshop: Supply Chain Sustainability in Practice on October 12 in Indianapolis, kicking off the week at NAEM’s EHS Management Forum. For more information, please visit http://chemicalstrategies.org/workevents_conf10.html.