Consumer regulation of chemical products expands

07 April 2009 21:34  [Source: ICIS news]

BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS news)--Consumer-driven regulation of chemicals and chemical-derived products and packaging at the retail level will continue to expand and increasingly will drive product de-selection, a leading attorney said on Tuesday.

Lynn Bergeson, managing director at the Washington, DC, firm of Bergeson & Campbell, told a chemicals industry conference that consumer demand for greener products and efforts by major retailers such as Wal-Mart to meet those interests are overtaking traditional government-sourced regulatory processes.

The consumer-driven process is called retail regulation.

She noted that private sector initiatives focused on precautionary substance policies are growing in number and scope.

Bergeson cited the sustainability policies of retail giant Wal-Mart, the Green List programme by SC Johnson and Home Depot’s Eco Options plan as among expanding campaigns at the consumer sale level “to be more mindful of products and their content and to help dictate what will be marketed”.

“The power of these initiatives cannot be underestimated,” she said.

“Far greater numbers of consumers are interested in these programmes than in any formal regulatory process,” she said.

With the assistance and urging of third-party groups such as environmental activists, “this is taking it to a whole new level where consumers are increasingly involved and manufacturers are targeted”.

Speaking to an audience at the 2009 Global Chemical Regulations Conference (GlobalChem), she said that these non-traditional regulatory programmes “will proliferate and will increasingly drive product selection and de-selection”.

“This will bypass entirely the regulatory process that stakeholders have relied on for decades,” she said, referring to the traditional legislative and regulation sequence that also gave manufacturers certain rights and judicial recourse.

Cosponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), the GlobalChem conference continues through Wednesday.

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Joe Kamalick
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