California Chemical Rules: A Hidden Opportunity?

by | Sep 30, 2013

nail polishChemical industry representatives are expressing concern over California’s Safer Consumer Products initiative, which takes effect tomorrow. Under the program, the state will ask manufacturers to investigate the feasibility of replacing toxic chemicals in their goods, starting with five priority products to be identified by April. The five initial products could include nail polish that contains toluene; carpet adhesive containing formaldehyde; and fluorescent light bulbs containing mercury, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Businesses are concerned that they may be forced to divulge trade secrets, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The American Chemistry Council, whose members include Dow Chemical, DuPont and BASF, also said the rules will produce at most a “marginal improvement in human health and environmental safety,” but at great cost to business, and risk creating undue customer alarm.

One would think such rules also present an opportunity for the chemical sector. Several of the industry’s giants have been positioning themselves as green leaders who can help manufacturers to formulate more environmentally friendly versions of their products. DuPont Tate & Lyle, for example, sells Zemea, an anti-microbial ingredient made from corn starch, which can replace petroleum-based glycols and glycerin in cosmetics, according to Cosmetics Design Europe. The ACC’s stance against the rules suggest that chemical companies aren’t yet ready to produce the needed alternatives at scale. But the rules may just push them in that direction.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Nail polish image via Shutterstock

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