• DTSC Issues Final Green Chemistry Initiative Report
  • January 23, 2009 | Authors: Daniel J. Herling; Leslie T. Krasny
  • Law Firm: Keller and Heckman LLP - San Francisco Office
  • On December 16, 2008, Cal/EPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) completed Phase 2 of the Green Chemistry Initiative by releasing its Final Report on a new chemical policy framework for California. To reduce the use of toxic substances in products and manufacturing processes, and increase disclosure of chemical risk information, the report calls for the state to implement six recommendations, two of which have already been enacted.

    • Expand pollution prevention and product stewardship programs to more business sectors to refocus additional resources on prevention rather than clean up, and promote ‘lifecycle thinking.'
    • Develop green chemistry workforce education and training through new and existing educational programs and partnerships, including technology transfer centers (incubators).
    • Create an online product ingredient network. Product manufacturers and suppliers should disclose all chemical ingredients, including nanomaterials, in products sold in California. Confidential business information "should be protected but accessible by a designated state agency to determine whether protected information includes a hazardous chemical. All other chemical ingredient information would be available to any interested person via the web-based network."
    • Create an online toxics clearinghouse. This is being accomplished through implementation of Senate Bill No. 509, which was enacted in September 2008. It will create an online database of chemical toxicity and hazards populated with the guidance of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to help prioritize chemicals of concern and data needs.
    • Accelerate the quest for safer products. This recommendation was the focus of Assembly Bill No. 1879, which was also enacted in September 2008. Like the legislation, the report supports the creation of a systematic, science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and alternatives to ensure product safety and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical-by-chemical bans.
    • Move toward a cradle-to-cradle economy to leverage market forces to produce products that are "benign-by-design" through "continuous innovation and design strategies that reduce production costs, improve quality, optimize resource use and generate less waste and pollution." The report calls for establishing a California Green Products Registry, a non-governmental organization, to develop green metrics and tools (e.g., environmental footprint calculators and sustainability indices) for a range of consumer products and encourage their use by businesses.

    The Final Report will prompt new legislative proposals to implement the remaining four policy recommendations just as many of the provisions in AB 1879 and SB 509 were added to address policy options identified by the Green Chemistry Initiative's Science Advisory Panel. Stakeholders should continue to closely monitor proposed legislative, executive and administrative actions and be prepared to participate effectively in the process. This initiative may also influence proposed TSCA reforms.