Posted on March 24, 2023 by Lynn L Bergeson
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted the justification for its fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriation estimates for the Committee on Appropriations (Congressional Justification (CJ)). According to the CJ, work in the Pollution Prevention (P2) Program supports Objective 7.2: Promote Pollution Prevention (P2) under Goal 7: Ensure Safety of Chemicals for People and the Environment. The FY 2024 budget includes $29 million and 69.2 full-time equivalents (FTE) to support the P2 Program in the Environmental Program and Management (EPM) appropriation, an increase of $16 million and 18 FTEs above the FY 2023 enacted budget. The CJ states that FY 2024 funding will continue to support the following P2 programs.
Safer Choice Program
The CJ states that Safer Choice is a voluntary program that certifies safer products so consumers, businesses, and purchasers can find products that work well and contain ingredients safer for human health and the environment. EPA certifies and allows use of the Safer Choice label on products containing ingredients that meet stringent health and environmental criteria. Under the same stringent criteria, EPA certifies disinfectant products registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) using the Design for the Environment logo. According to the CJ, the Safer Choice Program will expand into additional product categories and seek to increase consumer and commercial recognition of Safer Choice products. In FY 2024, EPA will continue its Partner of the Year Awards Program, recognizing organizations and companies for their leadership in formulating products made with safer ingredients and making them available to communities.
The CJ states that in FY 2024, Safer Choice will integrate and address environmental justice (EJ) concerns through outreach and partnership activities. Efforts to make Safer Choice-certified products more accessible to communities with EJ concerns will expand, with particular focus on low-income, Tribal, and indigenous populations and other vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. According to the CJ, Safer Choice will work with retailers and product manufacturers to help them develop more products containing safer chemical ingredients that are easy to identify and purchase. Safer Choice will also work to empower custodial staff and house cleaning companies and enable facilities through education to gain access to Safer Choice-certified products to improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure-related asthma.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program
The EPP Program implements direction provided to EPA in several statutes and Executive Orders that mandate sustainable federal procurement, including through development and use of sustainability standards, specifications, and ecolabels. Beginning in FY 2023, the EPP Program is expanding the EPA Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing in new categories to support the Biden Administration’s environmental and human health goals and mandates, including net-zero emissions procurement, low embodied carbon construction materials, and products that do not contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to the CJ, the EPP Program has received applications for over 70 standards/ecolabels from 29 organizations to be considered for assessment and recommendation in federal purchasing. These cover the following high-impact federal procurement sectors: food and cafeteria services; uniforms/clothing; professional services; laboratories and healthcare; building/construction; infrastructure; and landscaping.
The CJ notes that EPA is characterizing PFAS provisions of existing private-sector sustainability standards, ecolabels, and certifications to identify products and purchase categories associated with key PFAS use and to prioritize PFAS conditions of use. In FY 2024, EPA will enhance public protection from potential effects of PFAS through recommendations of additional standards/ecolabels to help purchasers identify products that meet specific environmental performance criteria. EPA will conduct the following activities:
- Assess and recommend additional ecolabels and standards with criteria specifically supporting reduction or elimination of PFAS use in key product categories not yet covered by the EPA Recommendations for Standards, Specifications, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing.
- Build, implement, maintain, and update tools for integrating EPA recommendations into federal e-procurement systems, initiate identification and monitoring of relevant government contracts for sustainable purchasing requirements, and develop tools to ensure that PFAS data are captured for compliance in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).
- Initiate and engage in private-sector standards development activities that address product categories known to contain PFAS.
- Work with the General Services Administration (GSA) and others to create a central product registry to identify products that meet EPA’s assessment of PFAS specifications.
- Collaborate with the Department of Defense (DOD) on performance-based, rather than material-based, specifications and standards for equipment (e.g., textiles, coatings, firefighting foam) for DOD and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses.
- Work with other federal agencies and the private sector to initiate a performance-based technology innovation challenge for a set of PFAS-free product categories for which use of non-PFAS options could be technically and economically feasible with respect to key federal purchasing categories.
According to the CJ, to support further EPA’s goals for equity and EJ, the EPP Program will begin to develop and implement training and outreach for disadvantaged communities, as well as state, Tribal, and local governments, to assist in facilitating product and service procurement choices that are environmentally sound and promote human and environmental health.
Green Chemistry Program
According to the CJ, the Green Chemistry Program fosters the sustainable design of chemical products and processes. It also analyzes green chemistry innovations and works with partners and external stakeholders to facilitate market adoption and penetration of new commercially successful chemistries and technologies. The CJ states that the program’s Green Chemistry Challenge Awards serve a critical role in raising the profile, importance, and credibility of innovative and market-ready green and sustainable chemistry technologies. In FY 2024, the Green Chemistry Program will begin to work with awardees and nominees to pursue the goal of market-oriented environmental and economic progress through increased adoption of these innovations. The CJ notes that EPA will support and lead portions of EPA’s responsibilities for implementation of the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2020. More information on the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2020 is available in our January 19, 2021, memorandum.
Posted on January 12, 2023 by Lynn L Bergeson
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 12, 2023, that it is updating the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), “a living list of chemicals organized by functional-use class that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meet Safer Choice criteria.” EPA is adding nine chemicals to the SCIL. EPA states that to expand the number of chemicals and functional-use categories on the SCIL, it encourages manufacturers to submit their safer chemicals for review and listing on the SCIL. In support of the Biden Administration’s goals, the addition of chemicals to the SCIL “incentivizes further innovation in safer chemistry, which can promote environmental justice, bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change, and improve water quality.” According to EPA, chemicals on the SCIL “are among the safest for their functional use.”
EPA changed the status for one chemical (1-octanesulfonic acid, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,8-tridecafluoro-) that has recently been identified on the SCIL as a per- or polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS). According to EPA, the chemical is not used in any Safer Choice-certified products. It was added to the SCIL in 2012 based on the data available and the state of EPA’s knowledge at the time. EPA has now updated the SCIL listing for this chemical to a grey square because of a growing understanding of the toxicological profiles for certain PFAS and incomplete information on the potential health and environmental effects of these substances. A grey square notation means that the chemical may not be allowed for use in products that are candidates for the Safer Choice label, and any current Safer Choice-certified products that contain this chemical must be reformulated unless relevant health and safety data are provided to justify continuing to list this chemical on the SCIL. EPA will determine the data required on a case-by-case basis. According to EPA, in general, data useful for making such a determination would provide evidence of low concern for human health and environmental impacts. Unless information provided to EPA adequately justifies continued listing, EPA will remove the chemical from the SCIL 12 months after the grey square designation.
EPA states that after this update, there are 1,064 chemicals listed on the SCIL. The SCIL is a resource that can help many different stakeholders:
- Product manufacturers use the SCIL to help make high-functioning products that contain safer ingredients;
- Chemical manufacturers use this list to promote the safer chemicals they manufacture;
- Retailers use the list to help shape their sustainability programs; and
- Environmental and health advocates use the list to support their work with industry to encourage the use of the safest possible chemistry.
EPA’s Safer Choice program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the program’s rigorous human health and environmental safety criteria. The Safer Choice program allows companies to use its label on products that meet the Safer Choice Standard. The EPA website contains a complete list of Safer Choice-certified products.
Posted on February 15, 2022 by Lynn L Bergeson
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 4, 2022, the release of a “new and improved” Framework for the Assessment of Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing under its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program, as well as a webpage highlighting ecolabel criteria that address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). EPA states that “[t]hese actions are a key step in implementing President Biden’s Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability and the accompanying Federal Sustainability Plan.
According to EPA, the EPP program helps federal government purchasers use private sector standards and ecolabels to identify and procure environmentally preferable products and services via the Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing. The updated Framework provides a streamlined, transparent, and consistent approach to assessing marketplace standards and ecolabels for environmental sustainability and for inclusion into the Recommendations.
EPA states that the updates to the Framework reflect lessons learned during the last five years of implementation and a desire to address a broader range of purchase categories with a more streamlined set of criteria. In addition, EPA updated the eligibility criteria for standards and ecolabels to support further their implementation across the federal government. EPA will use the Framework to update and expand the Recommendations to support the Biden Administration’s priorities and the Federal Sustainability Plan. The Recommendations currently include more than 40 private sector environmental performance standards and ecolabels in 25 purchase categories.
EPA will hold a webinar on March 2, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) to provide more information on the updated Framework and initial plans to expand the Recommendations. Stakeholders can register for the webinar and provide questions in advance.
EPA notes that the webpage highlighting how EPA’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels address PFAS “is an important step toward providing federal purchasers with tools to avoid procurement of products containing PFAS.” The release of the webpage is concurrent with work to identify products and purchase categories that are known to be associated with key PFAS uses, as well as outreach to ecolabel and standard organizations regarding addressing PFAS.
Posted on December 21, 2021 by Lynn L Bergeson
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On December 8, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. The EO calls for the federal government to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. Using a whole-of-government approach, the federal government “will demonstrate how innovation and environmental stewardship can protect our planet, safeguard Federal investments against the effects of climate change, respond to the needs of all of America’s communities, and expand American technologies, industries, and jobs.” The EO directs agencies to “incentivize markets for sustainable products and services by prioritizing products that can be reused, refurbished, or recycled; maximizing environmental benefits and cost savings through use of full lifecycle cost methodologies; purchasing products that contain recycled content, are biobased, or are energy and water efficient, in accordance with relevant statutory requirements; and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchasing sustainable products and services identified or recommended by” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the fact sheet, sustainable products include “products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”