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By Paul Stinson
Oct. 12 — An absence of green chemistry language and lack of cleaner ingredient disclosures in the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act had some panelists at an Oct. 11 conference concerned while others lauded the amended chemical statute.
“It’s a big paradigm shift,” said Joanna Slaney, a consultant at Environmental Defense Fund.
“Instead of going from a system where unless you could show there was a problem, a chemical got to be out there; now you actually have to show that there’s not likely to be a problem or that there isn’t a problem before the chemical can stay on the market,” she said.
“That’s pretty revolutionary from our perspective.”
Slaney offered the comments at SXSW Eco, a conference in Austin, Texas, during a policy panel examining the impact of the Lautenberg Act on the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA.
Passed in June by Congress, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. No. 114-182), amended TSCA June 22.
The absence of green chemistry language in the final bill remained a sore spot, said David Levine, chief executive officer for the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which represents 200,000 businesses nationwide and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors.
Speaking to Bloomberg BNA from the sidelines of the conference, Levine said “one of the big disappointments” in the bill was the failure to include a research and development component of the bill geared toward supporting innovation and safer chemicals, language which was “completely gutted.”
“There was an attempt by Sen. [Chris] Coons (D-Del.) to take his bill around sustainable chemistry and integrate that into the final language of the bill,” said Levine. “That was not included.”
Approved by the Senate in December 2015, the section cut from the bill passed by the House would have established an interagency sustainable chemistry committee and program.
“The idea that if we’re really serious about trying to move toward safer chemicals, one part of it is being able to regulate the hazardous chemicals and get them off the market, but the other part has got to be to recognize that there are truly safer alternatives that are out there,” said Levine.
“We need to invest a lot more and government has done this tremendously throughout the years investing in new technologies that will drive the innovation in the sector,” he said.
Levine identified the need for regulation in the arena of ingredient disclosure, saying the bill doesn’t go far enough in making clear to the public the contents and potential impact of ingredients on consumers.
“The new sets of laws we’re going to be looking for are ingredient disclosure in cleaning products,” said Levine.
“Transparency is the key frame that needs to be addressed, and it’s only partially covered by what we see presently in the Lautenberg bill to reform TSCA.”
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