California Green Chemistry Initiative

On October 1, 2013 California implemented a law whereby companies that manufacture certain consumer products must review whether they can make those products safer by using different, less toxic, or nontoxic ingredients.  Starting in April 2014, California - through its California Safer Consumer Products Law, also known as the Green Chemistry Initiative - began identifying classes of consumer products and directing manufacturers of those products to look to reformulate them using green chemistry.

How Does It Work?

California published two lists.  One list identifies chemicals of concern - approximately 1,200 substances.  The other identifies "initial" priority products candidates, which the state has determined pose the greatest potential danger to health and the environment. Then, this list was winnowed down to a handful of "priority products," consumer products containing at least one of the chemicals found on the list of 150. 

If they wish to sell in California, manufacturers of those priority products will then have to reformulate to eliminate the problematic substance(s) or justify why reformulation is not necessary.  Over time, the program will expand, and more consumer products will be identified as priority products.

Which Products Are Currently Identified as Priority Products?

As of September 2020, California has identified three priority products, which trigger compliance with the law:  1) children’s foam-padded products with TDCPP (chlorinated tris) or TCEP (tris phosphate); 2) spray polyurethane foam with unreacted methylene diphenyl diioscyanate; and 3) paint or varnish paint strippers containing methylene chloride.

There are, however, other products under various stages of review.  This list consists of:  1) Carpets and Rugs with Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs); 2) Laundry Detergents Containing the Surfactants Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs); 3) Paint and Varnish Strippers and Graffiti Removers Containing N-Methylpyrrolidone; 4) Nail Products Containing Toluene; 5) Treatments Containing PFASs for Use on Converted Textiles or Leathers; 6) Nail Products Containing Methyl Methacrylate; and, 7) Food Packaging Containing PFASs.  It is possible that one or more of these products could be designated priority products and trigger compliance issues for the manufacturers.

Substances of Concern to Members of The Vision Council

Several substances that may be found in The Vision Council's member products made the list of 150.  This includes:  1) bisphenol A, known as "BpA"; 2) various phthalates, including di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, known as DEHP and di-octyl phthalate, known as DOP; 3) nickel; 4) lead; and, 5) cadmium.  Thus, the possibility exists that California could target ophthalmic consumer products that contain these substances.

As of September 2020, California has not listed any eyewear product as a potential priority product.  The Vision Council continues to monitor this list and will keep members updated on any changes.

Questions?

The Vision Council will continue to monitor this law.  If members have questions on this topic then they should contact Rick Van Arnam, The Vision Council regulatory legal counsel, at rvanarnam@barnesrichardson.com.