Regulatory Issues

Written on: September 1, 2020 by Doug Raymond

On July 28, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a fourth workshop via webinar concerning amendments to its Consumer Products volatile organic compound (VOC) regulation, whose rule development began in April of 2019. CARB is required to regulate Consumer Products to achieve the maximum feasible reduction in VOC emissions. However, the regulations must be technologically and commercially feasible and not eliminate a product form.

CARB needs to achieve VOC emission reductions required by the State Implementation Plan (SIP). For 2023, CARB needs to achieve between 4–5 tons per day (TPD) statewide and a total of 8–10 TPD by 2031. CARB posted what could be its final draft proposal of categories and VOC limits during this webinar. Proposed categories are Manual Air Fresheners, Crawling Bug Insecticide, Hair Care Products, Personal Fragrance Products and a sunsetting of the Fragrance Exemption.

CARB has kept much of its proposal the same but has made some changes. Below are detailed explanations of each category with VOC limits and effective dates as proposed:

Manual Aerosol Air Freshener
This category is a combination of two existing categories. The Single and Double Phase Aerosol Air Freshener categories will be combined into the Manual Aerosol Air Freshener category starting Jan. 1, 2023. The proposed VOC limit for this new category is 10% VOC by Jan. 1, 2023. Currently, the Single and Double Phase categories are at 30% and 20%. This will mean a significant reduction in the VOC limit and there will be a further limit reduction to 5% VOC in 2027. Therefore, Aerosol Air Fresheners are in for a significant  VOC reduction.

With the creation of this new Manual Air Freshener category, CARB has also created three new niche categories of Aerosol Air Fresheners:
1. Automatic Aerosol Air Freshener for use in dispensers with a VOC limit of 30% in 2023.
2. Concentrated Aerosol Air Freshener (which has a very restrictive definition) has a VOC limit of 15% in 2023 and 10% VOC limit in 2027.
3. Total Release Air Freshener with a VOC limit of 25% in 2023. No future effective limit.

The Aerosol Air Freshener category will look completely different starting in 2023.

Aerosol Crawling Bug Insecticide
This category currently has a VOC limit of 15%, and CARB is proposing that it be reduced to 6% VOC in 2030. This is a change from CARB’s original proposal that required a step- down reduction in the VOC limit. Industry preferred only one reduction in the VOC limit, and due to it being a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered pesticide product, Industry also preferred only one reformulation. CARB, however, is allowing products solely for use on bedbugs to remain at 15% VOC.

Hair Care Products
CARB is proposing new VOC limits on Hair Finishing Sprays, Dry Shampoo, Hair Shine and Temporary Hair Color. Originally, CARB proposed VOC limits for Hair Spray and Dry Shampoo at 50% in 2023 and 45% in 2027. It then added Hair Shine and Temporary Hair  Color with a VOC limit of 45% in 2027.

Now for the big change! There will be no further reduction for Hair Spray—or any other Hair Care product categories—as the proposed 45% VOC limit has since been dropped. The Dry Shampoo limit has now been changed to 55% VOC in 2023 and 50% VOC in 2029. Hair Shine and Temporary Hair Color will need to reduce their VOC from the current 55% to 50% in 2029.

CARB Enforcement seeks to have all Hair Care products at the same limit so that there is no confusion with claims.

To reiterate, by CARB abandoning the 45% VOC future effective limit, it loses a significant portion of VOC reductions.

Personal Fragrance Products
This category may be the most complicated category to explain. CARB’s original proposal was:

• 68% VOC limit by Jan. 1, 2023 for all products under 10% Fragrance content
• 50% VOC limit by Jan. 1, 2027 for all products under 10% Fragrance content

The new proposal is:

70% VOC limit Jan. 1, 2023 for:
• All aerosol Personal Fragrance Products (regardless of fragrance content)
• Non-aerosol products less than or equal to 7% fragrance content


50% VOC limit Jan. 1, 2031 for:
• All aerosol Personal Fragrance Products (regardless of fragrance content)
• Non-aerosol products with less than or equal to 10% fragrance content

This change does two things: it provides non-aerosol products between 7% and 10% fragrance content to reformulate, and it discourages companies from increasing the fragrance content to comply. CARB is also proposing to provide a Technology Assessment in 2026 to ensure the 50% VOC limit is feasible.

2% Fragrance Exemption
CARB is proposing to sunset (remove) the 2% Fragrance Exemption from all categories in 2031. This will be a big change, as this exemption has been around for a long time. The good news is that Industry has a decade to review all the products and determine if a reformulation is necessary. The bad news is this will be an incredible amount of work, as every product containing a fragrance will need to be reviewed not only for reformulation, but for VOC content, as well.

Concerning General Purpose Cleaners and Non-aerosol Degreasers, CARB is proposing to allow 0.25% monoterpenes. This is a big win for Industry.














Above is the chart from the CARB presentation that summarizes the above. The entire presentation can be found here.

Again, there is good news/bad news. The good news is that Hair Care products do not have  to reduce VOC content to 45%. The bad news is that CARB is very close to its VOC emission reduction. Thus, there is little room to raise any VOC limits or change this proposal significantly.

CARB is requesting comments on this proposal, followed by ongoing talks with Industry  and possibly an additional workshop in the Fall. The final Final Draft will be released on Dec. 4 for a 45-day comment period. This is your very last chance to comment or effect a change, as the Board hearing for adoption is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2021.

Next month’s column will feature updates for all the other issues in this rule.

CARB emailed its final FY2020-2021 fee invoices to manufacturers of consumer products and architectural coatings on July 31. The base year for fee determination is 2018, and the final fee rate is $192.97. Companies have 60 days to pay these invoices. SPRAY