The state of California has long been a promoter of sustainability in business engagement and corporate social responsibility and is a trendsetter in legislating to that effect. From partaking in the fight against climate change (Clean Air Act, ban on single-use plastic bags) to protecting consumers privacy (CCPA) and discouraging human rights violations (Supply Chain Transparency Act) to name a few, California imposes strict requirements on businesses wishing to operate or sell in the state. 

The recent Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, which requires the disclosure of all ingredients known to potentially cause harm, is yet another illustration that supply chain transparency is high on California legislators’ agenda.

 

What Is the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act?

 

The California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act is a law that requires ingredient information be clearly listed on product labels and published on manufacturers’ websites. That requirement took effect on January 1, 2020, and applies to products manufactured after and/or sold after that date.

What Are the Designated Cleaning Products?

 

The Act defines designated products as a finished product used primarily for janitorial, domestic, or institutional cleaning purposes:

  • air care products, such as air freshener
  • automotive products, such as wax, polish, cleaner or surface treatment
  • general cleaning products, such as floor and glass cleaners, disinfectants, detergents
  • floor maintenance products such as polish wax, restorer, buffer

Personal care products, specific industrial products, and trial samples* are exempt.

Who Is Bound to Disclose?

 

  • Manufacturers of designated products sold in the state
  • Private label distributors

In addition, specified employers are required to make safety data sheets (SDS) available to their employees.

The bill specifies 23 lists of chemicals, among which include California Prop 65, the Washington Department of Ecology’s PBT chemicals, carcinogens listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

 

What Does the Act Mean for Manufacturers?

 

SB-258 bears no ambiguity. Manufacturers and private labels distributors must comply. In fact, as of March 2020, it is already late to be in compliance, though there is some debate as to the level of flexibility California is willing to show.

Because being in compliance with this California regulation involves relabeling products, even those that were already on the market after 01/01/2020, organizations face a big challenge, much like a product recall. One option for products that hit the retailers’ shelves ahead of the deadline and were not already relabelled is to send stickers to outlets. This strategy is less costly than shipping the products back.

Regardless of how many products manufacturers have out on the market, in their warehouse, or in production, any change in ingredient disclosure regulation disrupts operations. New labels are but the tip of the iceberg.

Step one is to carefully go through the list of listed chemicals (both added ingredients and by-products thereof) and determine which in your catalog fall under the scope of coverage of the California regulation.

Next is to dedicate resources to get the job done, in design (revise the label layout), in production (get the new label on the product), in website maintenance (publish all relevant information), in customer service (dedicate a 1.800 line for customer support/questions), and in marketing to communicate and highlight efforts to comply.

While this sounds like a major undertaking, businesses affected by the act should look at the silver lining. Corporate social responsibility used to be a “nice to have” and has become a “must-have.” It may not be resulting from the willingness of companies to do good deeds so much as from increasing state and federal concern over business practices and consumers’ expectations.

From the consumer’s perspective, the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act comes down to giving them the chance to make an informed decision when buying a product. Knowing about ingredients associated with health risks and chronic diseases can make a big difference in the lives of the families that use such basic products. This California regulation also sets a precedent in terms of ingredient disclosure. Rather than limiting transparency to revealing fragrance additives, the law expands the scope of coverage, offering consumers alternatives, choice, and peace of mind.

From an organization’s perspective, beyond the hurdles of making it happen, long-term benefits can be significant. In a marketplace where consumers are increasingly aware of their rights, increasingly informed of dangers and risks, and increasingly aware of human practices and environmental hazards, any business that demonstrates a conscious effort to not only be compliant but implement responsible strategies is a sure winner. Ethical business practices and transparency contribute to building trust and loyalty.

 

How to Comply with this California Regulation

 

Other states are rumored to soon follow through. (The state of New York has already launched the Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program). The California regulation does not include enforcement provisions by a state agency; however, the state attorney general has full authority to enforce the law, which brings to mind pictures of a public relation nightmare.

Short of stopping doing business in the Golden State (and with a population of nearly 40 million, why would you?), compliance is not negotiable.

More regulations of the sort are bound to sprout. If not laws, pressure from consumer groups will put shy organizations in the corner. That being said, keeping up on compliance requirements domestically and internationally puts a strain on teams, budgets, and operations in general. If you’ve been struggling to meet deadlines and have consistently added to your staff’s workload, now is a good time to consider reinforcement from a third-part compliance solution and support team like Source Intelligence. Tools that centralize data, simplify communication, engage suppliers so they assist rather than resist, and stay on top of compliance regulations can make a huge impact on your performance and bottom-line.

Talk to one of our regulatory experts to get you on track with the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act today!

Get a Consultation Call

*for details, see SB No. 258

What is the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act?

The California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act is a law that requires ingredient information be clearly listed on product labels and published on manufacturers’ websites. That requirement took effect on January 1, 2020, and applies to products manufactured after and/or sold after that date.

What Are the Designated Cleaning Products?

The Act defines designated products as a finished product used primarily for janitorial, domestic, or institutional cleaning purposes: air care products (such as air fresheners), automotive products (such as wax, polish, cleaner or surface treatment), general cleaning products (such as floor and glass cleaners, disinfectants, detergents), floor maintenance products (such as polish wax, restorer, buffer). Personal care products, specific industrial products, and trial samples* are exempt.

Who Is Bound to Disclose?

Manufacturers of designated products sold in the state and private label distributors. In addition, specified employers are required to make safety data sheets (SDS) available to their employees. The bill specifies 23 lists of chemicals, among which include California Prop 65, the Washington Department of Ecology’s PBT chemicals, carcinogens listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

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