By Nicholas Georges, HCPA Senior VP, Scientific & International Affairs with the HCPA Aerosol Products Division Plastic Aerosol PCR Task Force i

Sustainability has become an integral part of every business and companies have been exploring opportunities to improve their environmental footprint. This includes reducing energy use, decreasing emissions from transportation and redesigning primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.

Increasing the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content—through both voluntary initiatives and compliance with State mandates—is one way that companies are reducing the environmental impact of a product’s packaging.

Companies in the household and commercial products industry should be aware of current rules in New Jerseyii and Washington Stateiii that set minimum PCR content requirements for rigid plastic packaging and household cleaning and personal care products in plastic packaging, respectively. However, some Federal requirements prevent packaging from containing PCR. Then what?

That’s the exact issue for aerosol manufacturers and marketers that want to use plastic aerosol containers in the U.S. The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) requirements for plastic aerosol containers do not allow for the use of PCR, per 49 CFR 178.33b-6 (bolding added for emphasis):

Each container must be manufactured by thermoplastic processes that will assure uniformity of the completed container. No used material other than production residues or regrind from the manufacturing process may be used. The packaging must be adequately resistant to aging and to degradation caused either by the substance contained or by ultraviolet radiation.

A Federal regulation should pre-empt State requirements; however, it’s always possible for a State to decide differently, which requires litigation to make the ultimate decision. Rather than spending significant time and resources going through the court system, members of the Plastic Aerosol Research Group, LLC (PARG)iv used both analytical and physical property test measurements to analyze the impact of container integrity with various levels of PCR, specifically Solid-Stated Polymerization (SSP) Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), compared to plastic aerosol containers that used only virgin PET.

The analytical tests consisted of Intrinsic Viscosity (IV) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), which indicate the strength, thermal stability and integrity of the material and can predict anomalies and degradation in the polymer.

Through these studies, PARG looked at the base resins, as well as the pre-forms made with resin variables of 100% virgin (no PCR), 25% PCR, 50% PCR, 75% PCR and 100% PCR (no virgin material). The results showed no significant differences between the virgin and PCR resin blends.

The physical property tests included the burst strength, drop impact and resistance to temperature conditions. The data demonstrated that adding solid-stated polymerization PCR to virgin PET can produce a container that is of equal quality to a virgin PET container. That being said, manufacturers and marketers must still perform testing to assure stability and performance of the container once a formulation has been added.

Based on the results of these tests, combined with previous researchv that showed UV exposure is not expected to cause any significant difference in the performance properties of virgin and recycled PET with similar intrinsic viscosities, PARG members were able to conclude that there is no significant difference in the physical integrity of plastic aerosol containers containing only virgin PET or various levels of SSP PCR.

While PARG completed its overall mission and has since dissolved, the Household & Commercial Products Association’s (HCPA) Aerosol Products Division has published this work in a white paper, available here. HCPA and members of the aerosol industry will use this work to educate PHMSA in the hope that it will modify its regulation and allow the use of SSP PCR.

For more information on this work or to get involved with this advocacy, please contact Nicholas Georges at SPRAY

i Andy Franckhauser, P&G; Priyan Manjeshwar, Plastipak; Rodney Prater, SC Johnson; Scott Smith, Plastipak
ii S 2515
iii SB 5022
iv The Plastic Aerosol Research Group, LLC (PARG) was an internationally recognized consortium involved in the global advancement of the aerosol industry. The PARG charter was to grow the industry through good science and innovative processes. PARG was an advocate of the expansion of the aerosol container platform in an effort to grow the aerosol industry as a whole.
v Study of UV Degradation on Plastic (PET) Aerosols, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Journal of Applied Packaging Research (full study available here)

When I worked in R&D, I was often asked how well I knew the products I was creating. I, of course, thought that I knew these products better than anyone else—I was the one making them, after all. I knew why I had chosen one ingredient over another, why I decided to use a particular concentration or how I determined that a specific order of addition was required to achieve the desired formulation.
However, the level of scrutiny surrounding the ingredients in a product (intentionally added or not) has significantly increased since I was in the lab almost a decade ago. Demand for more transparency from consumers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), legislators and regulators has resulted in longer lists of chemicals of concern, which include more impurities and contaminants than intentionally-added compounds. In addition to longer lists, there have also been improvements to analytical instrumentation that allow for detection of parts-per-billion and even parts-per-trillion in some cases.
Even with this level of detection, it is nearly impossible for one company to know every detail about a product on its own. However, it is still the responsibility of each company to know what is in their product, and it is critical to work with the entire supply chain to discover this information. A thorough evaluation will help companies understand, not only what is being tested, but also what theoretical substances could be within various materials throughout the product’s life cycle, such as unintended reactions during manufacturing, interactions in the final package, potential sources of contamination or instability in the final product. Additionally, consideration of what substances could theoretically be in a product is more important now than ever because current analytical techniques will eventually advance to provide new intelligence.
Ultimately, this information will guide a company’s supplier choice(s), specifications or analytical capabilities beyond the traditional pricing and capacity considerations. Today, these are important factors to consider because a company’s reputation or brand could be damaged by the presence of a chemical of concern.
Communication throughout the supply chain is even more critical for aerosols because of the potential difficulties in testing the finished product. Understanding the analytical instrumentation and its ability to detect a particular substance at low levels requires the expertise of analytical chemists who are trained on each specific instrument and type of chemistry. While spraying an aerosol product is easy and convenient for consumers and workers, it is not that simple for analytical testing purposes, which is why such a high-level of expertise is required. The tester needs to understand the chemistry within the product, whether the analyte is in the concentrate or the propellant, and the packaging. Depending on the situation, different methodologies must be employed for the sample preparation and be compatible with the analytical instrument. I don’t want to oversimplify the testing of raw materials; however, most ingredients and components are easier to analyze that a finished aerosol product.
We’ve all heard about a time (or been in the situation ourselves) when a chemical of concern has been found in a product. Asking the right questions is key:
• Was the chemical present in the formulation or the packaging?
• Is the chemical in all lots of the product?
• Is the chemical present, but at differing levels than reported?
• Were the samples prepared and properly analyzed using a validated method?
The answers to these questions will be ready and available if there is communication and collaboration across the supply chain. Product manufacturers must be informed at every step of the way, understanding everything from analytical capabilities to their vendor’s compliance to what could theoretically be within a material.
At the end of the day, the finished aerosol product manufacturer is responsible for what is in the container, so it’s important to do your due diligence! Understanding the latest information on chemicals of concern, including how they are being tested, is at the top of the list. Otherwise, how will you respond if a third party tests your product and claims the presence of a chemical of concern?
How well do you know your product? Would you be comfortable answering challenging questions from regulators or if subpoenaed?  If you don’t already know, this is your sign to contact your supply chains to ask how they test for chemcials of concern.
For more information, please contact me at SPRAY

I try my best to avoid repeating topics within a year, but the constant changes in this industry sometimes require me to address an issue more frequently. I wrotei a column in April about the intentional misuse of aerosol products. It shared data on inhalant abuse, explained efforts the aerosol industry has taken to educate consumers about the dangers of intentionally misusing products and discussed a petitionii by the Families United Against Inhalant Abuse (FUAIA) to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requesting a rulemaking to adopt mandatory safety standards “to address the hazards associated with aerosol ‘duster’ products containing the chemical 1,1-difluoroethane, or any derivative thereof.”

Following a 3–1 vote on Aug. 2, the CPSC grantediii the petition and directed staff to initiate a rulemaking to adopt a mandatory standard to address the safety hazards associated with the intentional inhalation of fumes from aerosol duster products containing HFC-152a. The lone Commissioner to vote against initiating a rulemaking noted that the CPSC lacked the expertise and resources to engage this problem effectively and that other Government agencies, such as the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, may be better equipped to address substance abuse and mental health.

As of writing this column, there is no indication which direction the rulemaking will go. It could involve a mandatory labeling standard, the required use of a bittering agent or combinations thereof.

Regardless, it is critical for Industry to be at the table for this rulemaking and explain what is feasible from a technology standpoint to address inhalant abuse, including what can be done beyond a labeling standard. The 2022 Staff Briefing to the Commission recommended that no bittering agent should be required in dusters due to a lack of efficacy; however, the current petition calls for the use of a bittering agent other than denatonium benzoate, and it is plausible that this option will be reexamined.

Additionally, during a meeting conducted by ASTM International with a range of stakeholders, consumer advocates recommended switching to compressed gas or using bag-on-valve technology. While these suggestions are not readily feasible, all available options must be fully evaluated. For example, if a duster were to use a compressed gas while containing the same weight of propellant, a considerably stronger container beyond what is allowed under the Hazardous Materials Regulationsiv would be necessary to manage the higher pressure from a compressed gas, compared to a liquefied propellant. The potential hazards of that extremely high pressure would have to be discussed and evaluated for potential failure, whether through accidental or intentional misuse. Such analysis and education must come from Industry experts; otherwise, the good intentions of addressing inhalant abuse could lead to other incidents.

Any mandatory safety standard should neither deter the appropriate use of a product nor draw attention to the fact that the product can be abused (in the instance of including a specific warning label, like that on cigarettes). No one organization can solve inhalant abuse. Stakeholders, including Industry, must work together to develop appropriate safety standards.
For more information about this rulemaking, please contact me at SPRAY

i  SPRAY, April 2023
ii  link
iii  link
iv  49 CFR 173.306

Under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was required to select 10 substances to undergo the first risk evaluations under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Since then, another 20 substances have been designated as High-Priority Substances and are undergoing risk evaluations. The EPA has struggled to meet the timelines for these reviews; however, it has mostly completed the risk evaluations and moved to the risk management stage, proposing regulations to manage unreasonable risks posed by these chemicals.

Companies using these compounds in their formulations should be aware of what is being proposed and what it means for their future use (or not). Here is where the EPA currently stands on a few of the first 10 chemicals:

Methylene Chloride
In November 2022, the EPA published a final revised risk determination for methylene chloride. After finding unreasonable risk for 52 out of the 52 conditions of use, with chronic liver effects being the most sensitive endpoint, the EPA determined that, as a whole chemical substance, methylene chloride presents an unreasonable risk of health injury.

In May 2023, the EPA proposed prohibitions for many of the uses of methylene chloride. This includes prohibiting its manufacturing, processing and distribution for all consumer products and most commercial and industrial applications. The EPA also proposed a workplace chemical protection program (WCPP), with exposure limits significantly lower than the permissible exposure limits (PEL) used by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for the remaining allowed uses.

Notably, the proposal does not allow prohibited commercial and industrial applications to demonstrate compliance with the WCPP. The proposal does not include a de minimis level for allowing trace amounts of methylene chloride, so, as proposed, other substances may also be restricted as a result.

The EPA is currently reviewing the public comments and is expected to publish a final rule around June 2024. As proposed, the prohibitions related to consumer and commercial uses for manufacturers would take effect three months after the final rule’s publication, with additional time for products already in the supply chain to comply.

In December 2022, the EPA published a revised risk determination for perchloroethylene. After finding unreasonable risk for 60 out of the 61 conditions of use, it determined that, as a whole chemical, perchloroethylene presents an unreasonable risk.

In June 2023, the EPA proposed to ban the manufacturing, processing and distribution of perchloroethylene for all consumer products and most commercial and industrial applications. Similar to methylene chloride, the EPA has proposed a WCPP that is significantly lower than the OSHA PEL for perchloroethylene; however, the proposal includes a de minimis level for perchloroethylene as a trace contaminant in other substances.

By the time this column is published, the public comment period for perchloroethylene will have closed; the EPA is expected to issue a final rule around August 2024. As proposed, the prohibitions for manufacturers would take effect 12 months after the final rule’s publication, with additional time for inventory in the supply chain to run out or be recalled.

Trichloroethylene, 1-Bromopropane & n-Methylpyrrolidone
The EPA published revised risk determinations for Trichloroethylene, 1-Bromopropane and n-Methylpyrrolidone, finding that all three substances present an unreasonable risk under their conditions of use.

During the next few months, the EPA will publish risk management rules to address the conditions of use that present an unreasonable risk of health injury. We can make an educated guess about how these rules will look based on the proposals for methylene chloride and perchloroethylene.

In July 2023, the EPA published a draft supplement to the 2020 1,4-dioxane risk evaluation, which evaluated risks from exposure to 1,4-dioxane as a byproduct in several manufacturing processes and risks to the general population from 1,4-dioxane in the air and drinking water.

Also in July 2023, the EPA published a draft revised TSCA Risk Determination; after finding unreasonable risk for 22 out of the 34 conditions of use, the EPA determined that, as a whole chemical substance, 1,4-dioxane presents an unreasonable risk of health injury.

Comments on the 2023 draft supplement and draft revised TSCA Risk Determination are due to the EPA by Sept. 8, 2023, ahead of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) peer review meeting.

Review of the first 10 chemicals under the revised TSCA has taken longer than the statutory deadlines required; however, the end of this process is in sight. It’s important to stay up to date on this activity. Please contact me with any questions or for more information at SPRAY

The aerosol industry has been facing a number of pressure points over the last several years, including tariffs, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. However, new and revised regulations might be the most significant source of pressure—not just on the aerosol industry, but on all businesses.

While there are some regulations that require a heavy lift to comply, like meeting the stringent requirements of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) General Consumer Products Regulation, it’s the volume of recent regulatory activity that is serving as the greatest source of pressure for companies these days.

The Federal government recently publishedi an updated regulatory agenda, some of which the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) is monitoring and engaging in for the aerosol industry.

Consumer Product Safety Commission
In 2021, Families United Against Inhalant Abuse (FUAIA) submittedii a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requesting a rulemaking to adopt a mandatory safety standard for duster aerosol products. CPSC staff is expected to send a briefing package to Commissioners in August 2023 with recommendations to reduce the risk of intentionally inhaling aerosol dusters.

The CPSC is required by Congress to promulgate a final consumer product safety standard for button cell/coin batteries and consumer products containing button cell/coin batteries by August 16. If you sell aerosol products that utilize battery-operated dispensing systems, check the system to confirm what type of battery it uses.

Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue implementing the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2022 (PRIA 5), including bilingual labeling, activities related to the Endangered Species Act, the establishment of a training program for EPA staff, and the initiation of a third-party audit of the Pesticide Program.

The EPA should complete a couple of rulemakings under the American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act this year. This includes the allowance allocation methodology for 2024 and beyond, as well as adding restrictions on the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) (i.e., those with high global warming potential: GWP > 150).

The EPA is expected to finalize amendments to the National Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emission Standards for Aerosol Coatings. This rulemaking should align the EPA’s rule with CARB’s Regulation for Reducing the Ozone Formed from Aerosol Coating Product Emissions.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA is in the process of proposing risk management rules for Existing Chemicals Program, including Methylene Chloride, Perchloroethylene, Trichloroethylene, 1-Bromopropane, n-Methylpyrrolidone and 1,4-Dioxane. Also under TSCA, the EPA will establish a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a substance presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment; establish reporting requirements based on a chemical’s status in the Risk Evaluation/Risk Management process and update reporting requirements under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulation; develop significant new use rules (SNURs) on conditions of use identified as not currently ongoing in the final scope documents for High Priority Substances undergoing risk evaluations; and adding reporting and recordkeeping requirements for PFAS substances. The EPA has finalized new and amended rules concerning the assertion and maintenance of claims of confidential business information (CBI) under TSCA, which take effect in August 2023.

The EPA is developing a rulemaking to add certain PFAS to the list of chemicals reportable under section 313 of the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). A proposed rule is expected by the end of the year.

The EPA is also currently reconsidering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter & Ozone.

Federal Trade Commission
It’s been more than a decade since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last updated its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides). Earlier this year, the FTC solicited input from stakeholders on potential updates and changes to the Green Guides. While the public comment period has closed, it is likely that more activity will arise once the comments have been reviewed and analyzed.

Food & Drug Administration
Last year, Congress passed the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA), which requires the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to propose and finalize regulations to establish Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for facilities that manufacture cosmetic products, propose fragrance allergen labeling requirements and establish testing methods for detecting and identifying asbestos in talc-containing cosmetic products. MoCRA will also require manufacturers to register their facilities with the FDA, submit lists of products with ingredient information to the Administration, report serious adverse events and maintain records supporting adequate safety substantiation. Further, the FDA now has the authority to order a mandatory recall if a company refuses to do so voluntarily.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to finalize amendments to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) before the end of the year. The modifications are expected to align the HCS with the 7th edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification & Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), as well as incorporate some elements from the 8th edition.

OSHA is also exploring the possibility of modernizing the Process Safety Management standard, and related standards, with the goal of preventing major chemical accidents.

This is neither an exhaustive list of all the Federal activity that HCPA is monitoring, nor does it include any of the State activity that HCPA is tracking. For more information about these updates or other regulatory issues, please contact me at SPRAY


i Published on June 13, 2023. link
ii link

If you’ve had any conversations recently with the rulemaking staff at the California Air Resources Board (CARB), chances are photochemical reactivity has come up in the course of the discussion. For those who aren’t familiar, photochemical reactivity is a measure of the tendency of a chemical to break down in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight and other pollutants to form ozone. Reactions in the atmosphere are very complex and the amount of ozone produced can vary based on atmospheric conditions and the inherent reactivity of the molecules.

As you probably know, CARB is planning to undergo another rulemaking on consumer products. It should not come as a surprise that sizeable emissions reductions are needed to meet the California State Implementation Plan (SIP) commitments to continue improving air quality. For more than 30 years, CARB has regulated the volatile organic compound (VOC) content of consumer products as part of an overall strategy to reduce ground-level ozone; however, the next rulemaking will not just focus on VOCs. CARB is zeroing in on ozone-forming potential (OFP) when determining emission reductions. Maximum Incremental Reactivity (MIR) is one way to measure photochemical reactivity by estimating how much ground-level ozone can potentially be formed, provided that the other components necessary for the reaction to generate ozone are present. While various conditions will change the amount of ozone that can be generated, it is generally understood that a substance with a higher MIR will form more ozone under most conditions than a substance with a lower MIR.

Why are we suddenly shifting focus from VOCs to measurements that represent OFP? After decades of regulating consumer products, there are not many areas left for CARB to regulate and obtain the VOC reductions they are pursuing—and MIR-based limits would offer a more targeted approach for reducing ground-level ozone.

However, this raises a question: Why regulate consumer products by VOC content if MIR is a more targeted approach? The answer to that question is best summarized by a 1995 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report to Congressi (emphasis added):

To be most effective, ozone control strategies ideally should be based not only on mass VOC and NOx emissions but should consider the relative photochemical reactivity of individual species, the VOC-to-NOx ratios prevalent in specific airsheds, and other factors which could work together to minimize the formation of ozone with minimum adverse impacts. Reactivity data on VOC, especially those compounds used to formulate consumer and commercial products, is extremely limited. Better data, which can be obtained only at a great expense, is needed if EPA is to consider relative photochemical reactivity in any VOC control strategy. In the meantime, a practical approach is to act on the basis of mass VOC emissions.

While MIR is the more scientifically robust approach, the science was not in place to be used for regulatory purposes, so CARB targeted the low-hanging fruit that a mass-based VOC approach offered at the onset of these regulations. Both CARB and Industry have long recognized the need to measure the differences in reactivities of VOCs and the potential amount of ground-level ozone, so they funded Dr. William (Bill) Carter’s environmental chamber studies of the MIR of VOCs at the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center (SAPRC) at the University of California, Riverside. The experiments consisted of repeated six-hour indoor chamber irradiations of a simplified mixture of ozone precursors with NOx in excess, alternating tests of varying amounts of an added VOC.

Dr. Carter’s work has paved the way for consumer products to be regulated by MIR—and there’s precedence to do so. CARBii (and EPAiii) already regulate aerosol coatings based on reactivity, not mass-based VOC content. In addition, CARB added an alternative compliance optioniv for multi-purpose lubricants and expanded the Innovative Product Exemptionv for hairspray, dry shampoo and personal fragrance products to utilize photochemical reactivity.

Exploring MIR-based limits for various product categories will be more complex and likely require companies to make adjustments on their end to comply; however, switching to MIR and utilizing solvents with lower MIR values means that formulators can utilize VOCs with low MIRs, which will increase opportunities for innovation.

The Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) will host a MIR webinarvi on Aug. 8. For more information or to register, please contact me at SPRAY

 Study of Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Consumer & Commercial Products Report to Congress. EPA-453/R-94-066-A. March 1995.
ii  Cal. Code Regs. Title 17, §§ 94520-28
iii 40 CFR Part 59 Subpart E
iv Cal. Code Regs. Title 17, § 94509 (r)
v  Cal. Code Regs. Title 17, § 94511
vi  link

My three-year-old niece has a fascination with recycling and recycling trucks. Not garbage trucks, because those are stinky; no, she loves the green recycling trucks that come down the street once a week. According to my other friends with young children, this is common, which leads me to believe that Generation Alpha cannot get enough of trips to waste sorting facilities, recycling trucks and can collection machines.

I’m not sure where this interest comes from, but I think we can all agree that educating our youth about the importance of recycling is important. However, what should we teach them? There are still many questionsi about what products and materials we should recycle and how. Should consumers bag their recyclables? Can grocery bags and plastic wrappers be recycled? How are materials sorted after a consumer puts them in their curbside program? Furthermore, as my niece regularly asks, when do the magical green trucks come?

Plastics have become the “poster child” for confusing recycling rules. Many people think a plastic is recyclable when they see the chasing arrows symbol (accompanied by a number) on the packaging, but that number is actually used to identify the type of resin plastic, which makes it easier to sort out materials to be recycled. Therein lies the problem.

In an attempt to provide clarification, California passed SB-343, Environmental Advertising: Recycling Symbol: Recyclability: Products & Packaging.ii Other efforts to address confusion related to recycling are underway, but accordingiii to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), only an estimated 9% of all plastics have been recycled. That means there’s still work to be done. The UNEP has established an Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) that is responsible for developing a plastics treaty. However, to do this effectively, it’s essential to understand the technology involved in recycling plastic products, packaging and material.

There are two main processes for recycling plastics that work in tandem—mechanical recycling and advanced (or chemical) recycling. Mechanical recycling breaks up plastic material, either by crushing, grinding or some other physical means to break down the material, which is then remelted into granules that can be used to create new products. Mechanical recycling is more common than advanced recycling because it’s what our current infrastructure is set up to handle. It is important to note that, for mechanical recycling, materials must first be sorted because it requires an uncontaminated waste stream and can only handle certain types of plastic. Mechanical recycling cannot be used on multilayer plastics because the process weakens the strength of the plastic, limiting the number of applications the recycled resin can create.

Advanced recycling is a newer technology for recycling plastics and is actually multiple technologies, such as enzymatic hydrolysis, methanolysis and glycolysis. These processes are used to break down plastic waste, which can then be used as a feedstock to manufacture new products by breaking down the polymer chains into monomers that can be used again to build new polymers. This process can remove contamination and produce chemicals with the same quality and physical properties as virgin material. Advanced recycling is more energy intensive than mechanical recycling and should be used as a complementary technology and not as a substitute, but it’s betteriv than virgin plastic production and can divert plastic that is unsuitable for mechanical recycling from incineration, landfills or the environment. Advanced recycling is currently limited in scale, but several companies in the European Union and the U.S. have made significant investments in this technology to develop and scale it for the future.

Our society has a diverse range of plastic materials and packaging, and it isn’t practical to think one single solution can manage all of that material. Public policy should encourage the development and advancement of new technologies to help recycling streams become more efficient and effective. Through these technological advances, we can produce more recycled resin to meet the needs of consumers and workers who depend on plastic.

Education on how to properly recycle is just as important as achieving these technological advances. Recycling correctly and minimizing contamination are essential to ensuring that plastic and other materials can be recycled into new products. The goal is to build a solid foundation for recycling so that future generations, whether that’s my niece’s generation or the generations that will come after, can focus on other issues rather than continue to address the shortfalls of turning our garbage into the products of the future.

For further information, please contact me at SPRAY

i link
ii link
iii link
iv City College of New York. “Advanced plastics recycling yields climate benefits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2022.

An aerosol product is used to deliver a wide variety of products, which means they are subject to a number of government laws and regulations. The aerosol industry constantly strives to create new products that improve the daily lives of consumers and workers while still complying with existing laws and regulations. Unfortunately, regulations can sometimes stifle the industry’s ability to innovate and bring new products to market. People typically associate regulations with government agencies such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); however, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline & Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA) has also promulgated certain requirements for aerosol products.

PHMSA is responsible for developing and enforcing the regulations that ensure the safe transport of hazardous materials and products. Aerosol productsi are always subject to PHMSA’s requirements due to their pressurized natureii and can be assigned subsidiary hazards depending on the formulation. For this reason, an aerosol containeriii needs to meet rigorous material, design, construction, manufacturing and pressure testing requirements, and the shipping of aerosol products has additional requirements.

There are certain situations in which a company’s manufacturing process or product does not align with PHMSA’s regulations, including shipping a gas-only aerosol product, shipping an aerosol product in a container that doesn’t meet the wall thickness requirement, or utilizing an alternative technology to replace the water bath test. In these (and other) circumstances, a company can obtain a special permit from PHMSA that allows companies to still ship hazardous materials.iv

To receive a special permit, an application must be submitted at least 120 days before the requested effective date, provide a detailed descriptionv of the proposal and justify that the proposal is at least as protective as the regulations or show an analysis that shipping is safe if a certain scenario is not addressed by existing regulations.

While the timeline of PHMSA’s review of a special permit application will vary, it will ultimately either issue or deny the proposal a special permit. If it’s denied, the applicant can petition for reconsideration within 20 days of receipt of the decision and provide additional information needed to support the request.

When a special permit is granted, a company using the special permit must meet specific requirements documented within, such as special markings, providing additional documentation and training. When first issued, a special permit will not be effective for more than two years. Applicationsvi for renewing a special permit must be submitted at least 60 days prior to expiration and may be renewed for successive periods, but not more than four years. If a renewal does not occur, a company must reapply for a new special permit.

Federal hazardous materials transportation law requiresvii PHMSA to publish a notice in the Federal Register that an application for a new special permit or a modification to an existing special permit has been filed (though no confidential information is released) and gives the public an opportunity to inspect the safety analysis and provide comment. PHMSA also maintains an online toolviii that allows the public to search for special permits by number, company name or State.

While transporting aerosol products in the U.S. is highly regulated, the special permit process allows companies to deliver new and more sustainable products to the public more quickly and with an equivalent level of safety than the standard rulemaking process.

For more information on shipping aerosol products in the U.S., please contact me at SPRAY

i As defined by the 49 CFR § 171.8
ii Aerosols are categorized in accordance with the 49 CFR § 173.115(l)
iii For example, the requirements for a 2P container can be found at the 49 CFR § 178.33
iv 49 CFR Part 107 Subpart B
v Requirements for the description can be found at 49 CFR § 107.105
vi Regulations pertaining to an application renewal are found in the 49 CFR § 107.109
vii 49 USC 5117(b)
viii link

My early childhood education occurred in the 1990s, which meant I sat through a number of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) classes. The D.A.R.E. program taught children how to resist the peer pressure of smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. However, now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized that inhalant abuse was rarely, if ever, mentioned—and it should have received more attention.

Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhalation of common products, such as glue, nail polish remover, felt-tip pens and certain aerosol products, with the intention of getting high. Inhalant abusers use products that provide a quick “high” with rapid dissipation and minimal “hangover” symptoms.i

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 21.7 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older have used inhalants at least once in their lives, and recent surveys show that 13.1% of eighth graders have used inhalants.ii According to the American Addiction Centers,iii inhalant abuse usually begins before tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or other substance abuse, which couldiv be because inhalants are legal to obtain and easy to acquire.

While there are a number of products that are abused as inhalants more often than aerosols,v the aerosol industry takes this problem very seriously, which has led to a voluntary warning on aerosol product labels about the potential dangers of intentionally misusing these products. Further, aerosol companies have implemented product stewardship efforts and many retailers will lock up products that are commonly abused.

The Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) also worked with aerosol member companies to create the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE), a foundation aimed at addressing inhalant abuse through awareness and education. Inhalant abuse cases decreasedvi between the early 1990s and late 2000s; however, recent informationvii suggests they may be back on the rise.

In April 2021, Families United Against Inhalant Abuse (FUAIA) submitted a petitionviii to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to initiate a rulemaking to adopt a mandatory standard “to address the hazards associated with aerosol ‘duster’ products containing the chemical 1,1-difluoroethane, or any derivative thereof.” The petition asked CPSC to mandate a performance standard requiring manufacturers to add a bitterant agent (other than denatonium benzoate) to all aerosol duster products, as well as a warning statement that the product could kill the user if s/he breathes it. HCPA and other industry stakeholders submitted commentsix to CPSC opposing this petition, citing technical challenges with the proposed bitterant standard and inappropriate labeling, similar to that on cigarettes, which could actually encourage abuse.

In July 2022, CPSC publishedx a briefing package regarding the petition that recommended deferring the petition. While CPSC staff opposed the requests within the petition, it wanted to research other potential solutions that could reduce the intentional abuse of the aerosol duster product category.

With this intent, CPSC asked ASTM International to look into creating a new voluntary standard to minimize the risk of intentional misuse and abuse of aerosol duster products. ASTM held an exploratory call with various stakeholders—including CPSC staff, consumer advocates, behavioral scientists and industry representatives—to discuss potential options, such as enhanced labeling, consumer education, use of aversive agents and product delivery modification to reduce the likelihood of abuse.

Achieving a consensus when developing a voluntary standard is not an easy task, but it’s essential for industry to be a part of these conversations—especially in this case, because inhalant abuse is a behavioral problem. A standard should not deter the appropriate use of a product, nor should the standard draw attention to the fact that the product can be abused (in the instance of including an overly exaggerated warning label).

Any product can pose a hazard when it’s intentionally misused. Industry can’t solve this problem alone, but it can play a role, alongside other stakeholders, to educate the public about the dangers of intentionally misusing or abusing products. To learn more about what you can do to help, I D.A.R.E. you to contact me at SPRAY

i Williams, J.F., & Storck, M. (2007). Inhalant abuse. Pediatrics, 119(5), 1009–1017.
ii NIDA. 2020, May 28. Letter from the Director. Retrieved from here
iii American Addition Centers Editorial Staff. 2021, July 9. The Dangers of Inhalant Abuse. Retrieved from here
iv Kurtzman, T.L., Otsuka, K.N., & Wahl, R.A. (2001). Inhalant abuse by adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 28(3), 170–180.
v Based on the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA), Center for Behavioral Health Statistics & Quality, National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 2013–2021.
vi Halliburton, A.E., & Bray, B.C. (2016). Long-term prevalence and demographic trends in U.S. adolescent inhalant use: Implications for clinicians and prevention scientists. Substance Use & Misuse, 51(3), 343–356.
vii Forrester, M.B. (2020). Computer & electronic duster spray inhalation (huffing) injuries managed at emergency departments. The American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 46(2), 180–183.
viii FUAIA’s petition is available here
ix HCPA’s letter is available here
x CPSC’s briefing package is available here

There’s been a significant spotlight placed on packaging waste over the last few years. Government and other stakeholders have introduced legislation and regulations that require companies to make significant changes to their packaging, especially related to sustainability and cost. However, some of these changes have sparked concerns about formulation compatibility, labeling and transportation.

One of the key indicators of a product’s sustainability profile is whether its packaging is reduced, reused or recycled. Most products are designed to be recycled, but that doesn’t mean they are accepted in all collection and sortation processes—or even that there’s an end market for the material once it’s been processed.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws have received significant attention in the U.S., as more States use EPR as a policy tool to manage and reduce the amount of consumer waste by placing the bulk of this responsibility on the producers. Post-consumer recycled (PCR) content laws, whether as stand-alone legislation or combined with EPR, are also being utilized to aggressively create and drive markets for recycled materials.

One area that will start to receive more attention in the not-too-distant future is the handling and disposal of leftover products. In the household and commercial products industry, products are designed to be used until there is nothing left. However, we’ve all disposed of a product before it’s completely empty, so what is the average consumer supposed to do?

In commercial, institutional and industrial settings, leftover product could be hazardous due to certain properties that make it dangerous to human health or the environment. Under the Resource Conversation & Recovery Act (RCRA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed regulations for the management of hazardous waste based on whether the discarded material exhibits one or more of the following characteristic properties: ignitabilityi , corrosivityii , reactivityiii or toxicityiv. The EPA also maintains four lists of waste—Fv, Kvi , Pvii  and Uviii —that are hazardous based on common manufacturing and industrial processes.

For certain commercial hazardous wastes, the EPA has developed universal waste regulations that ease the burden on the regulated community and encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs that reduce the quantity of waste going into local landfills or combustors. Aerosol cans were addedix  to the list of universal waste in 2020, and to date, 35 U.S. States and the District of Columbia have added aerosol cans to their universal waste programs. The Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) continues to advocate that other States do the same, and we expect more rulemakings in the next couple of years.

However, this is different for leftover waste generated by consumers. Under RCRA, household hazardous waste (HHW) is exempt, in part because there’s no practical way for the EPA to regulate every household as a waste generator. Even so, it’s critical that HHW is properly managed, not just for the safety of the user, but for the safety of those that collect and handle recyclable material or waste going to the landfill. For instance, in 2022, material recovery facilities (MRFs) reportedxmore fires than any previous year—and that doesn’t include what else these workers may be exposed to.

Many communities have HHW collection programs throughout the year and some even have permanent drop-off programs, allowing consumers to properly dispose of their HHW. However, there are a few challenges with these programs. Like recycling programs, HHW programs vary community by community, having different sets of collection requirements and management rules. This causes confusion among consumers and usually results in them just taking the easy route and throwing the product in the trash.

Many of these programs are also facing financial challenges because they are costly to manage. As a result, the number of collection days could decrease or consumers could have to travel further to dispose of their HHW. In order to be effective, an HHW must have a consistent collection schedule, standardized requirements and rules that are accessible and understandable.

The Vermont legislature is exploring an HHW proposal to address funding shortfalls identified by local solid waste districts. The proposal is modeled on a construct championed by the Product Stewardship Institute wherein Industry would be responsible for fully funding HHW, but it would be controlled by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The HCPA and allied trades are negotiating potential solutions to the funding shortfalls. The industry can expect HHW measures to be introduced in legislatures across the U.S.

The safe use and disposal of consumer and commercial products is of the utmost importance. To stay up-to-date on all legislative and regulatory activities around recycling and HHW, please contact me at SPRAY

i 40 CFR 261.21
ii 40 CFR 261.22
iii 40 CFR 261.23
vi 40 CFR 261.24
v 40 CFR 261.31
vi 40 CFR 261.32
vii 40 CFR 261.33
viii 40 CFR 261.34
ix link
x Fogelman, Ryan. 2022 Officially the Worst Year for Waste & Recycling Facility Fires. Dec. 5, 2022. link