By the time you read this column, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will have voted to adopt the amendments to the volatile organic compound (VOC) Consumer Products Regulation. Industry has been working on this regulation for over two years.
Many changes have been made. For instance, certain product categories have been dropped. CARB only regulated a handful of product categories. The question is now what? In theory, CARB should be in good shape with VOC compliance until 2030. However, this is assuming that all categories targeted can achieve the VOC limits put forth by CARB staff. If Industry does not meet these VOC limits, then new product categories will be reviewed and regulated.
My concern is the Personal Fragrance category that is targeted with a VOC reduction of over five tons per day. This is a large amount of VOC reduction for one category. I don’t feel that this is technologically feasible and if the Personal Fragrance category does not achieve these reductions, then the staff will target other product categories. We will likely not know this for several years.
In addition, there is still ongoing research into how much VOC is emitted by Consumer Products. This research will continue as other sources (mainly automobiles) reduce their emissions. The emissions from Consumer Products then become a bigger portion of the overall emissions pie.
As CARB activity begins to wind down, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) activity on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) begins to ramp up. EPA is moving quickly on this rule development, whose official name is the American Innovation & Manufacturing Act (AIM).
On Feb. 11, 2021, EPA sent out a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) and only allowed 14 days for comment (which is crazy fast). Then, on Feb. 25, 2021, EPA held a meeting with all stakeholders to go over the “plan” for this rule development. EPA made it very clear that it plans to have a rule by Sept. 23, 2021 for certain sectors of the Industry, along with allowances. If you use HFCs or plan to, now is the time to get involved. As noted above, EPA is moving very fast on this rule.
EPA stated in its meeting that this is an opportunity for Industry to work with the agency to explain the business aspects of this phasedown and the technology limitations for the use of HFCs.
Industry needs to protect the HFC exclusion uses that it negotiated in the original Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) rule.
We will be working with some old acquaintances at EPA—Cindy Newburg and Margaret Shepard—but also some new faces, as well. EPA is currently scrambling due to the timeline imposed from the legislation and plans to have sector meetings. Currently EPA is planning the following workshops:
• 3/11 Defense sprays
• 3/11 Metered dose inhalers
• 3/11 Etching of semiconductor material or wafers and cleaning
• 3/12 Structural composite for marine and trailer use
• 3/12 Onboard aerospace fire suppression
So, everybody hold on for a fast ride… SPRAY