What to Expect With California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations

Green Products Update

Date: October 01, 2013

On October 1, 2013 California’s Safer Consumer Products Act went into effect.  More commonly known as California’s “Green Chemistry” law, the Act directs the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to identify and prioritize chemical ingredients in consumer products that may pose health concerns, and to determine how best to limit or reduce potential hazards posed by those chemicals. 


Applicable to consumer products that enter the stream of commerce in California, the regulations require manufacturers, retailers, and importers to seek safer alternatives to harmful chemicals widely used in products, “offering California the opportunity to lead the way in producing safer versions of goods already in demand around the world.”  To accomplish this goal, the regulations establish a four-step process:

  1. Candidate Chemicals.  The regulations establish an immediate list of approximately 1,200 Candidate Chemicals, which either the DTSC or other authoritative organizations have determined “exhibit a hazard trait or an environmental or toxicological endpoint.”  The list of Informational Candidate Chemicals is available on DTSC’s website.
  2. Priority Products.  The DTSC will evaluate and prioritize product/Candidate Chemical combinations to develop a list of “Priority Products” for which an Alternative Analysis must be conducted.  For a product-chemical combination to be listed as a Priority Product, there must be a potential exposure to the Candidate Chemical in the product, and there must be potential for one or more exposures to contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse public health and/or environmental impacts.  DTSC has pared down the list of Candidate Chemicals to fewer than 200 chemicals that meet those two criteria – the Informational “Initial” Candidate Chemicals List.  That list is also available on DTSC’s website. By April 1, 2014 the DTSC must provide its initial proposed list of Priority Products for public review and comment.  It is anticipated the initial list will include no more than five Priority Products.  By October 1, 2014 the DTSC must issue a Priority Product Work Plan that identifies the product categories that will be evaluated to determine products to be added to the Priority Products list during the next three years.
  3. Compliance.  Within 60 days of a Priority Product being identified, a manufacturer, retailer, or importer of the Priority Product must provide the DTSC with a Priority Product Notification identifying the party’s role as a manufacturer, retailer, or importer, as well as a description of type, brand name(s), and product names(s) of the Priority Product.  A preliminary Alternative Analysis must then be conducted within 180 days to determine whether the product can be made with safer substitute chemicals – so called “alternatives of least concern.”
  4. Regulatory Responses.  The regulations require the DTSC to identify and impose regulatory responses to protect public health and the environment, and to maximize the use of alternatives of least concern wherever technically and economically feasible.

What to do NOW?

For now, manufacturers, retailers, and importers of consumer products in California’s stream of commerce should at least have on hand an inventory of all the chemical ingredients in their products.  If such information is not readily available, they should obtain it from their suppliers and, in turn, be prepared to provide the information to their own customers.  They should also check in with their trade associations to see what, if anything, their trade associations are doing to help members address or prepare for the regulations.

Manufacturers, retailers, and importers should compare the Informational “Initial” Candidate Chemicals List against their product ingredients.  If any ingredients are listed, they should evaluate the likelihood that their product(s) will be listed as a Priority Product(s).  If likely, they should talk with their suppliers and customers up and down the supply chain to determine compliance, and they should consider whether there are opportunities to replace the chemical or petition the DTSC to not list the product(s) as Priority Product(s).  A trade association can be a valuable resource when petitioning the DTSC.

Those in the chemical industry should review the Informational “Initial” Candidate Chemicals List for any chemicals that they manufacture or supply and consider the business ramifications of how their customers and the market may respond to the listing.

Thompson Hine will continue to follow the latest developments regarding California’s Safer Consumer Products regulations and will release updates as more information emerges.


For more information, please contact:

Timothy J. Coughlin

Heidi B. (Goldstein) Friedman

William J. Hubbard


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