Green Chemistry Status in California and All US States

Green Chemistry simply means: using chemistry to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous materials. Below, we’ve provided a table itemizing which states have stages of green chemistry laws implemented.  Just scroll down.  We all need an overview sometimes.  You can download the Green Chemistry Status pdf version here.

The California Green Chemistry Initiative may be a great idea, but it started an environmental regulatory trend whereby the state regulates chemicals in manufactured products. It applies to goods made or sold in the state. The green chemistry initiatives are similar to, in particular, DfE or Design for Environment and REACH. Often, Green Chemistry focuses on children’s products. This sparks the public interest, makes legislation easier to pass, and let’s face it, it appears children are more vulnerable and susceptible to the maleffects of toxic substances, largely because of toxic attacks on youth in critical developmental stages.

Would it be ideal to have Green Chemistry be some kind of standard at the federal level? Absolutely. Manufacturers, associations, regulatory bodies and the public agree on that. In theory. But then you get the politics, infighting, lobbying, special interest groups on both the left and right — and we’re back to state and local regulations. Of course these are all different, in different stages of implementation. This spells disaster for manufacturers trying to abide by the law.

To solve the problem, we’ve created an up to date Status Table that shows the status of Green Chemistry laws, state by state.

If you have trouble seeing the table below, view and print a high-resolution pdf version. Data are current as of December 2010.

Reuters recently ran an article that pointed out:

“In addition to the health and environmental safety of these greener chemicals, green chemistry brings a competitive advantage to companies:

1. Less risk of product recalls and potential damage to company reputation
2. Cost savings gained when hazardous materials are removed to reduce the costs associated with handling, transportation, disposal and compliance of hazardous materials
3. Improved chances of greater stakeholder engagement from customers, employees, managers, and investors are achieved when a company demonstrates initiatives to reduce their negative impact on the environment
4. Cost savings from greater efficiencies in manufacturing process.”

This entry was posted in Green Thoughts and tagged , , , , by Kal. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kal

Kal Kawar, CIH, PE, has a bachelor's in chemical engineering and a master's in industrial hygiene. His professional experience includes serving as staff industrial hygienist for IBM's New York semiconductor manufacturing facility, and as industrial hygienist for IBM’s US headquarters. Now executive vice president of Actio, Kal taps more than 20 years' worth of chemical engineering, industrial hygiene, and environmental engineering experience. His far-reaching expertise with global regulatory challenges created by EPA, TSCA, REACH, RoHS, WEEE – and hundreds of others – aid in developing Actio software solutions for MSDS management, raw material disclosure compliance, and product stewardship in a supply chain.

6 thoughts on “Green Chemistry Status in California and All US States

  1. I am all for designing / using / producing with less/no harmful materials.. (who isn’t?)

    The “Devil is in the details”…..

    The list of 4 competitive advantages? very vague at best…
    (item 4. cost savings from greater efficiencies in Manufacturing… REALLY? every time?)

    For better or worse (generally worse) companies equate values/actions back to dollars (ROI) … and it is nearly impossible to put a dollar value on the items stated.
    Sorta like ” putting a notion in a cup”… (measuring a “thought”?)

    Are there real $ values/impacts for these items?
    Sure … but agreeing upon amount of monetary impact is another story (ROI?)

    Bottom line: Money is a lousy way to measure “doing the right thing”.
    We all think we can recognize when the “right thing” is being done..
    but we really don’t know how to quantify it.

    The real issues:
    How do you get society to recognize the futility of using money to measure everything?
    What system of measurement is more appropriate?

    If it was easy (or obvious) … we would already be “doing it”..

    As pointed out by Kal…
    It would be nice to have a some sort of standard at the Federal level..
    Federal level? .. forget it.. If I am wishing, I wish for a standard at the world level.
    I have the same level confidence in getting either one in the near term.

    Most companies are doing the right thing.. because they have to (sell in Europe? must have CE … which equates to meeting ROHS requirements)
    I don’t see DFE or REACH having much real impact… most of their requirements were already addressed with CE… to which, most products already have to comply.
    Basically, their additional requirements just add to the confusion.

    In the USA… we have hundreds of agencies regulating business/products … in a very chaotic way… ( FAA, FCC, UL, OHSA, Mil stds, differing state laws, City laws, Environmental laws, etc …. ) making it very hard for a company to remain competitive and compliant.

    “a nation of laws, randomly enforced” … Frank Zappa

    Yea… lets make some more laws…that will fix it….

    My preference.. people in authority looking a root issues…then maybe we will start making real progress…

    Sorry… needed to “vent” on the subject.

  2. However, we need to be careful of two things…well two things I have thought of so far.

    One – who gets to choose what chemicals are of concern? In today’s world public ignorance outcry usually trumps science — and legislators are tools of the public. But then, for reasons I won’t go into here, scienctists are often the tools of public outcry as well…. Hmmm.

    Two – we need to make sure that we look at the systemic effect on the environment in all of these choices. Is the cure worse than the illness? Does eliminating or changing one chemical cause environmental or health problems in another area?

  3. Pingback: EPA’s ToxCast Screens 1,000 Chemicals for Toxicity at Circuits Assembly blog

  4. @John: “Is the cure worse than the illness? Does eliminating or changing one chemical cause environmental or health problems in another area?”

    Hear, hear. I can’t help but think of the landmark three-year, $10-million study undertaken by Hughes, Raytheon, TI and a number of other leading defense contractors under the auspices of the NCMS in the mid 1990s whereby they put together perhaps the largest database at that time of the literature on lead-free metals.

    While noting that lead was certainly a potential health hazard, the study pointed out that one reason lead is vilified is because the literature on it is so extensive, whereas many of the alternatives simply had not been well studied. Even so, in terms of toxicology, lead emerged looking much closer better than the bottom of the 100-plus metals studied.

    Now the EPA is considering the toxicity of tin ( That’s great, but at some point we have to learn to acknowledge (and live with) with the downsides to certain materials. The emphasis should be on control and containment, not eradication.

  5. Mike makes a good point. Actually, there are many good points made here.

    Of course, most chemical regulations for products do focus on regulating threshold limits, not banning the substance entirely. The major problem becomes keeping up with multi-dimensional data: the products, the ingredients, the supplier’s ingredients, and the changing regulatory lists and changing substance threshold levels. A spreadsheet will explode over the problem. Requires a relational database, a tireless rules engine (or five), and a firm regulatory expert’s hand on the wheel.

    Wonder what readers of this blog think is the likelihood of FEDERAL-LEVEL REACH-like regulations in the U.S. within the next year? Next five years?

    Interested to hear what people would guess. I for one would say within the next five years.

    – Kal Kawar, PE, CIH

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