On March 7 in Baltimore, Helen Medina, USCIB’s director of life sciences and product policy, took part in the annual GlobalChem conference, speaking on a panel on “Regulating Chemicals in Products/Articles.” For over 20 years, GlobalChem has provided a forum for discussion of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act, equivalent international regulations, and emerging issues and trends in the product stewardship arena.
The panel focused on the increasing pressure for U.S. manufacturers, importers and exporters to meet applicable governmental reporting requirements (including the European Union’s REACH effort), as well as content restrictions such as state chemical-specific laws in the U.S. and the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS II) initiative, without knowing fully what chemicals their suppliers have used in making the products they purchase and those used in making or selling their own products. In addition to Medina, the other panelists were Mike Irwin (Procter & Gamble), Andrea Fava (Intel) and Ernie Rosenberg (American Cleaning Institute).
Panelists reviewed increased government reporting requirements and content restrictions, as well as compliance through supply-chain management, and identified the challenges and solutions for companies selling products that incorporate chemicals or components supplied by others. USCIB’s Medina spoke about how the regulation and information-sharing about chemicals in articles are unfolding in the international arena. She described the specific obligations EU REACH sets out for manufacturers of articles, and she called attention to South Korea’s efforts to introduce REACH-style.
Medina also described how the UN efforts, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) initiative, are addressing chemicals in products and providing a platform for some to call for increased sharing of environmental information. She warned of the spread of REACH-like approaches outside the EU, the use of SAICM as a platform to facilitate this, and the potential “perfect storm” brewing in various multilateral forums – from June’s Rio+20 conference to the International Conference on Chemicals and Chemicals Management – to validate the inclusion of REACH-style measures in an international treaty built on the SAICM initiative. Medina said the time is now for business to engage with governments in the run-up to Rio+20 and in SAICM discussions in order to shape desired outcomes.
Staff contact: Helen Medina