On September 2, 2014, the California Air Resources Board launched its 2013 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey. The Survey requires “Responsible Parties” to report ingredient information, including the volatile organic compound (VOC) composition, for impacted consumer products sold in California from 2013-2015. Impacted products range from air fresheners to antiperspirants to hair care products. ARB will use the data it receives to update its VOC emissions inventory in preparation for a new State Implementation Plan in 2016 that meets federal EPA air quality standards. It will also use the data to evaluate the feasibility of further reducing VOC emissions from consumer products and the use of low vapor pressure VOC in these products. There are concerns over the breadth and timing of the Survey, as it is unclear whether Responsible Parties can report the massive amount of information the Survey requires within the time provided.
A Responsible Party is the company listed on the product label (i.e., the company the product is “manufactured for” or “distributed by”). ARB has developed an applicability questionnaire to assist in determining Responsible Parties.
Responsible Parties must submit the following information through ARB’s online reporting tool for Survey submissions. Reporting parties can designate information as confidential within the tool:
- Responsible party information sheet, identifying the company name, address, type of business, gross annual receipts for 2013, number of employees, and whether a third party formulator will submit formulation data on the company’s behalf;
- Product information, including product name, SKU, ARB Category Codes, and product details (size, form);
- Product sales in California;
- Image of product label;
- Product ingredients, including chemical name, weight, CAS Number;
For certain ingredients, ARB has provided specified reporting requirements, including grouping certain organic and inorganic compounds, as well as surfactants, resins, colors, and fragrances. Responsible Parties must report all impacted consumer products, even if they contain no VOC. Responsible Parties may group products together that differ only in size, color, fragrance, surfactant, resin, or certain inorganics. ARB has published instructions
providing details on each of these issues, as well as a helpful FAQ.
The consumer product categories covered by the Survey include:
Responsible Parties must submit Survey information for 2013 products by March 2, 2015. All data on 2014 products is due on November 1, 2015, and data on 2015 products is due on November 1, 2016. While sales information for 2014 and 2015 must be provided, ingredient information does not need to be reported unless VOC content changes by greater than 0.5 percent by weight.
Failure to comply
The Survey is mandatory for Responsible Parties, with failure to respond subject to fines and civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation. If reported information shows that a consumer product does not comply with the applicable VOC limit, ARB may also impose fines or penalties for that violation.
In response to ARB’s draft survey materials, representatives of the consumer products industry expressed grave concerns. The Survey demands a substantial amount of information about a massive number of consumer products. Obtaining only the information on impacted products containing VOC is already a huge task – adding information on all impacted products, whether or not they contain VOC, only compounds the challenge. In addition, the ARB reporting tool will be used for the first time, and ARB concluded beta testing only a short time prior to the launch. This leaves little time for Responsible Parties to familiarize themselves with the tool, which is not intuitive. ARB itself appears to be challenged by this aggressive timing, as it anticipates the reporting tool will not be ready for secure data upload until January 1, 2015. Many companies may also need to address IT issues related to the tool, and may be forced to bring in new personnel dedicated to the Survey. Beyond logistics, there are serious concerns about ARB’s ability to keep confidential the enormous quantities of propriety information that must be reported. Despite these concerns, ARB moved forward on September 2. It has scheduled a public webinar on October 15, 2014 to answer industry questions and provide clarifications. There also will be a public webinar on December 15, 2014 to review data upload into the reporting tool.