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Green Chemistry Initiatives: An American Patchwork?

A growing number of states are passing Green Chemistry laws, e.g.; California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington State.  These laws present a challenge to manufacturers who distribute and sell products into the 50 states.

For instance, starting on November 22, 2013 manufacturers no longer need to report the presence of n-butanol in children’s products to the Washington State Department of Ecology.  Washington amended its Children’s Safe Products Act on October 22, 2013 removing n-Butanol (also known as butyl alcohol, CAS# 71-36-3) from its list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children.

The same amendment, however, adds Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (or TDCPP, CAS# 13674-87-8) to the list.  This flame retardant is also recognized by the State of California to be a carcinogen.  Tris has appeared on California’s Prop. 65 list since 2011.  Washington expects Manufacturers to begin registering children’s products containing Tris starting in February 2015.

Like California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, the CSPA places the onus on manufacturers to familiarize themselves with state law requirements, identify certain chemicals in their products, and remove them or comply with registration requirements.  Unlike California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, however, the CSPA does not require detailed analyses and possible reformulation of consumer products.

On the other side of the country, Maine’s Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products law similarly requires the one-time registration of certain products containing Priority Chemicals.  Maine recognizes two Priority Chemicals from a list of 49 Chemicals of High Concern, which are in turn derived from a list of 1,400 Chemicals of Concern.

As the existing body of law develops and additional states pass Green Chemistry legislation, manufacturers will find it increasingly difficult to keep current with widely varying requirements.  Commercial efficiencies will push manufacturers to design or reformulate to the most restrictive set of regulations.  Those who cannot design chemicals of concern out of their products, however, will likely face repetitive registrations in numerous states around the country.

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About this Author

Energy and Clean Technology Law

Mintz Levin is the nation’s premier legal and consulting solutions provider for energy technology innovators. We provide the strategic and legal guidance clients need to thrive, whether they are entrepreneurs, start-ups, or large-scale corporations. One of the first law firms to develop a practice focused on representing companies creating “green” or “clean” technologies, we have expanded our practice to also include full-service representation of companies advancing technology innovations used in established energy sectors.

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