April ’23 at-a-glance … environment

Maine seeks input on draft PFAS reporting requirements

Maine issued draft notification requirements and sales prohibitions for new and component products containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As a reminder, in October 2022, Maine approved the most comprehensive PFAS restrictions in the U.S., requiring manufacturers of products with intentionally added PFAS to report those products to an online database. The state is setting the bar for what could become a nationwide reporting protocol. A public hearing was held April 20 and comments are due May 19.

Minnesota considering PFAS regulation

Minnesota Senate File (SF) 834 would prohibit the sale in the state of certain products, including commercial cookware, containing PFAS from Jan. 1, 2025. Manufacturers of products for sale in the state would be required to provide written notification of any products containing intentionally added PFAS. Members of the American Chemistry Council wrote a letter to the state’s Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee opposing SF 834. “The legislation is overly broad, lacks scientific basis, will have significant unintended consequences and could eventually ban thousands of products from sale in Minnesota.”

PFAS drinking water standards could impact members

As reported last month, the EPA proposed the first national standard to establish maximum drinking water contaminant levels for six PFAS. According to Fred Andes, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg, the proposed requirements would not only apply to municipalities but to members who provide their own drinking water to employees, from a well or other source.

The proposed rule would require water systems to monitor and notify the public of the levels of these chemicals and reduce their levels in drinking water if they exceed the proposed standards. PFAS subject to regulation would include PFOA and PFOS as individual contaminants, and PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX Chemicals as a mixture. Ten states already have enforceable drinking water standards for these PFAS compositions: Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Plastic coating standards addressed in new EPA Final Rule

EPA issued a Final Rule regarding standards for industrial surface coating of plastic parts for business machines. The rule applies to a variety of plastic parts coated to provide color, texture, protection and improved appearance. Members are advised to make sure their facilities, particularly spray booths, apply.

NY considers extended producer responsibility program for refrigerants and appliances

New York Senate 6105 would require producers, groups of producers and representative organizations to establish a collection program for refrigerants and refrigerant-containing appliances by Dec. 31, 2025. Producers would be responsible for the costs associated with the program and must provide collection sites across the state. If approved, the program must meet minimum goals for recycling rates of 30%, 50% and 75% by 5, 10, and 15 years after the plan is approved. The New York bill is similar to Washington House Bill 1164 that attempts to address end-of-life management and disposal of refrigerants by requiring the development of an appliance stewardship organization (ASO) to provide for the collection of covered appliances. It also is similar to SORAC, the Commercial Appliance Recovery Society formed to meet Quebec’s extended-producer responsibility initiative for commercial and institutional refrigeration and freezer equipment to comply with Recyc-Quebec (R-Q) requirements.

EPA issues 2022 – 2026 strategic plan

EPA issued its four-year strategic plan covering 2022 – 2026. The plan details the vision, priorities, and strategies to accomplish the agency’s mission over the next four years. For the first time, EPA’s plan also includes a strategic goal focused exclusively on addressing climate change and a new strategic goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights. Priorities that will drive EPA’s agenda for the next several years include:

  1. Tackle the climate crisis.
  2. Take decisive action to advance environmental justice and civil rights
  3. Enforce environmental laws and ensure compliance
  4. Ensure clean and healthy air for all communities
  5. Ensure clean and safe water for all communities
  6. Safeguard and revitalize communities
  7. Ensure safety of chemicals for people and the environment

EPA also provides a brief overview of its upcoming efforts.

Proposed EU Green Claims Directive could inform U.S. FTC Green Guides

On March 22, 2023, the European Commission proposed the Green Claims Directive intended to make green claims reliable, comparable and verifiable across the EU and protect consumers from greenwashing. This action was in response, at least in part, to a 2020 commission study that found more than 50% of green labels that made environmental claims that were “vague, misleading or unfounded,” and 40% of these claims were “unsubstantiated.”  “Adding to the momentum generated by other EU green initiatives, this directive could be the catalyst that also spurs the U.S. to approve stronger regulatory enforcement mechanisms to crackdown on greenwashing,” said Fred Andes, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. This proposed directive overlaps the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request for comments on its Green Guides, including whether the agency should initiate a rulemaking to establish enforceable requirements related to unfair and deceptive environmental claims. Green Guides have historically been reviewed every 10 years.