Consumer demand for transparency in both the household and institutional markets continues to grow across the United States, and most recently manifested itself in the form of state legislation.
On October 15, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 (SB 258) into law, making California the first state to require complete ingredient disclosure for cleaning products. The California law will take effect January 1, 2020, for full disclosure on websites and January 1, 2021, for disclosure on product labels. While California was first in the United States to require ingredient disclosure, it is far from the only state looking at this issue.
On April 25, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an initiative that will require manufacturers of household and institutional cleaning products sold in New York to disclose cleaning products’ ingredients on their websites. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to soon finalize this program. In addition, the Minnesota Legislature considered a similar ruling in 2017, and while it did not pass, the measure is expected to be reconsidered this year.
This surge in state activity on ingredient disclosure for cleaning products has caused many in the industry to consider the case for federal disclosure legislation. Such an approach would provide uniformity in the form of one national standard, an approach that is ultimately preferred to the complexity and cost of complying with a patchwork of state laws.
While legislative initiatives of this nature are clearly impactful, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Laws and regulations requiring ingredient disclosure are merely a reflection of the growing demand for transparency by commercial and household consumers alike who are flexing their purchasing muscle and insisting upon ingredient disclosure and other information. This rising demand for transparency has manifested itself in different ways:
- Retailers. Major retailers have recognized they can capitalize on the demand for transparency by enhancing their ingredient disclosure policies. For example, Target Corp. recently announced its transparency goal of achieving full ingredient disclosure on major product categories, including cleaning products and personal care items, by 2020.
Walmart Stores, Inc.’s 2013 Sustainable Chemistry policy required suppliers of formulated products, including cleaning solutions, to disclose ingredients online by 2015, and all priority chemicals on product packaging by 2018. Walmart updated its policy in September 2017, expanding its full transparency commitment globally and adding the European Union’s fragrance allergens to the disclosed ingredient mandate.
- Ecolabels. Prominent ecolabel programs require ingredient disclosure as one of the conditions of achieving certification. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Safer Choice program requires manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose all intentionally added ingredients in one of the following locations: product label, website, toll-free number, or other media approved by the EPA.
- Voluntary disclosers. Numerous major manufacturers have recognized the growing demand for ingredient disclosure and voluntarily have provided this information, typically online. These organizations view ingredient disclosure as another way of differentiating their products, thereby helping them increase market share, especially as the demand for green products continues to grow at a faster pace than traditional cleaners.
- California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017. California is the first authority in the United States to mandate complete ingredient disclosure. It is imperative that manufacturers familiarize themselves with the law and develop a compliance plan to meet the impending deadlines. Likewise, distributors and cleaning service providers should begin to prepare themselves for this forthcoming ingredient disclosure and eventual customer inquiries. With that in mind, here is a detailed overview of the act.
Who Must Comply?
Manufacturers of designated products sold in California must comply with the act’s labeling and website disclosure requirements. The act defines a manufacturer as a person or entity whose name appears on the label as either the manufacturer of the product or the distributor or retailer for whom the product is manufactured and whose name appears on the product-label (i.e., private label distributor).
What Cleaning Products Are Covered?
The act’s disclosure requirements apply to the following types of products sold in California: air care; automotive; general cleaning; disinfectants (website disclosure only); and polish or floor maintenance products used for domestic, janitorial, or institutional cleaning purposes. The act excludes food, drugs (i.e., hand sanitizers), cosmetics, and products manufactured exclusively for industrial use.
When Do the Requirements Take Effective?
Organizations must comply with the online disclosure requirements on or after January 1, 2020. The labeling disclosure provisions affected products sold in California takes effect on or after January 1, 2021. The applicability of this law is keyed to the date of sale, rather than the date of manufacture.
What Information Must Be Included on the Product Label?
The following information must appear on a product’s label:
- A list of each intentionally added ingredient that is included on any of 22 designated domestic and international regulatory listings; or
- A list of all intentionally added ingredients, unless the ingredient qualifies for nondisclosure as confidential business information.
- If a designated product label does not include a full list of intentionally added ingredients, a website address must identify where the consumer can obtain the full list. Additionally, all designated product labels must include the manufacturer’s toll-free telephone number and a website address where additional information about the chemicals can be found.
- If the product contains fragrance allergens at a concentration at or above 0.01 percent (100 ppm), there are further labeling requirements.
What Information Must Manufacturers Disclose Online?
Manufacturers of designated products sold in California must disclose the following product information on their websites:
- A list of all intentionally added ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight (unless the ingredient qualifies for protection as confidential business information)
- A list of all nonfunctional constituents present at a concentration at or above 0.01 percent (100 ppm). The Act lists 34 substances as nonfunctional constituents, including: 1,4-dioxane, 1,1-dichloroethane, acrylic acid, benzene, various phthalates, and more
- The Chemical Abstracts Service number for all intentionally added ingredients and nonfunctional constituents
- The functional purpose served by each intentionally added ingredient that is not a nonfunctional constituent
- Links to designated regulatory lists on which all intentionally added ingredients and nonfunctional constituents appear
- A link to the hazard communication safety data sheet for the designated product
- Additional specified information related to fragrance ingredients and allergens.
Can Manufacturers Protect Confidential Business Information?
Manufacturers do not need to disclose the following:
- The weight or amount of an intentionally added ingredient
- How a product is manufactured
- The identity of any intentionally added ingredients or mixture of ingredients that has already been accorded confidential business information protection under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act’s Confidential Inventory or for which the manufacturer claims protection consistent with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. In this event, manufacturers are advised to document the process by which they consider the information to be confidential or a trade secret.
However, all ingredients contained on any of the 22 designated regulatory listings or that are nonfunctional constituents must be disclosed.
Although companies mainly that manufacture or sell clean up products in California have a few years before compliance is mandatory, they should begin planning the implementation process immediately. This is because the Act’s disclosure requirements apply to the date of a product’s sale in California and not to the date of production or labeling.