Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EU Commission Amends Cosmetics Regulation

EU Commission has amended a cosmetics regulation. Restrictions have been applied to four preservatives and a UV filter.

The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety's (SCCS). The SCCS is one of the independent scientific committees managed by the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission. It provides scientific advice to the Commission on non-food issues, such as personal care products.

The recent SCCS Opinions (capitalized on purpose) on four preservatives and a UV filter have prompted changes with the five substances listed below.

Three preservatives:
  • cetrimonium chloride
  • steartrimonium chloride 
  • behentrimonium chloride 
shall be restricted to the maximum concentrations indicated by the SCCS.

Plus this preservative:
  • The mixture of citric acid and silver nitrate will have a threshold limit, usages are allowed up to a concentration of 0.2%
Plus this UV filter:
  • Sunscreen nano-UV filter tris-biphenyl triazine may be used in cosmetic products at a concentration up to 0.2%, in deodorants and antiperspirants, as a preservative and/or as an active ingredient
The amendments, which were published in the Official Journal, will enter into force on August 28th.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CLP -- Time to Review Mixtures

On June 5, 2014 the European Commission officially adopted the sixth adaptation to scientific and technical progress to the CLP Regulation. With Q4 of 2014 looming right ahead, it's time to review classifications and labeling of mixtures! Businesses must be ready for all the deadlines 2015 will bring.

Review the classification and labeling of your mixtures

From June 1, 2015, the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation will be the only legislation applying to the classification and labeling of both substances and mixtures in the European Union. CLP requires companies to classify, label and package their hazardous chemicals appropriately before placing them on the market.

The classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals is based on the Globally Harmonized System, agreed on by the United Nations. Its stated purpose is to ensure a high level of protection of health and the environment, as well as the free movement of substances, mixtures and articles. As most readers will know, the United States has adopted this protocol as well, see GHS in the USA, a GHS implementation timeline.

The obligations under the CLP Regulation are similar to the previous EU legislation. However, there are a fwe notable differences. An enormous number of products must be re-labelled to comply with CLP, including consumer items such as paints or detergents, as well as industrial mixtures.

Get to know the CLP requirements and implement them 

To (re)classify and label your mixtures you can:
  1. Use the information provided by your supplier in the safety data sheet (SDS)
  2. Check ECHA's Classification and Labeling Inventory to find out how others have classified and labelled the relevant substances
  3. Make use of the harmonized classification and labeling for the most hazardous chemicals on the EU market 
  4. Use the classification and labeling information from your suppliers if you refill, repackage or re-import hazardous chemicals into the EU without changing their composition
  5. Request help from a regional consultancy or a global compliance software firm 


- The Classification and Labelling Inventory [sic] includes translations for the substances with harmonized classification.
- The free phraseology database, ECHA-term, provides downloads of hazard and precautionary statements in 23 official EU languages.
- Web pages on mixture classification offer a step-based approach to classifying mixtures.

For anyone wondering: the CLP is Europe's way of saying GHS. Essentially.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Explosion at Eggnog Plant

Last weekend there was a loud boom in Totowa, New Jersey.

"I felt my house actually shake from the explosion, and it's about a mile away," said a town resident. The source? A vat of ingredients for eggnog exploded. An exterior plant wall blew out.  Everyone on premises felt the quake. Tiny twisted steel bits scattered across the scene.

The only reason no one was killed was the timing: it happened on a thin-shift Saturday night.

Christmas in July?

As the public heard the story, images of grandma with her holiday sweater and an exploding glass of eggnog filled people's minds. The fire marshal on the scene was quick to put the public at ease. He said almost right away that it wasn't the eggnog ingredients per se that exploded.

The implication here is that consumers needn't worry about cardboard cartons in kitchens bursting into flames this holiday season, when eggnog flows into our homes with ubiquity not unlike the great molasses flood in Boston in the early 21st century — when 21 people were killed by a slow-moving wave of molasses, and 150 were injured.

The eggnog was not the problem. "It wasn't a flammable material, it wasn't material that was under pressure," Totowa Fire Marshall Allen Del Vecchio told NBC news, referring to the eggnog ingredients in the vat. "So when you started eliminating things, it leads you back to that one probable source."

A malfunctioning heating unit.

Egg on noggin?

Incredibly, no one was killed. A three-story wall was ripped from its frame and exploded. People all around felt the blast. Two people were treated for minor injuries, but it could've been much, much worse.

Why we need a company like Pharmachem to make eggnog flavoring (isn't eggnog just eggs, milk and nutmeg?) is a question for later. For now, there's egg on the corporate noggin.

Turns out, a heating unit malfunctioned and caused the boom. The unit is used to warm the vat and the mixture inside it. We say that without irony.

Santa claws

The public is supposed to feel reassured by the news that no one was seriously injured and better still, our sweet, milky, nutmeggy, eggy holiday drink is safe to consume, as the holiday season looms not too far ahead.

But the whole story has a naughty-not-nice flavor to it. It will be hard to look at eggnog the same way ever again — without thinking "pharma," "chemistry," and "boom."

(Someone should advise Pharmachem to change their name to something kinder. Something less incendiary, as it were.)

(Ho ho ho.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Non-Financial Disclosure Law in Europe

The recent European Union’s (E.U.) amendment to its general accounting directives signals a continued trend towards the disclosure of non-financial information.

The new EU amendment requires companies to disclose many things in their management report:
  1. Relevant and material information on policies
  2. Outcomes and risks — including any implemented due diligence
  3. Relevant non-financial key performance indicators concerning:
  • environmental aspects
  • social and employee-related matters
  • respect for human rights
  • anti-corruption and bribery issues
  • diversity on boards of directors
The European Commission’s non-financial disclosure amendment affects companies with over 500 employees and either a balance sheet total of at least 20 million Euros or a net turnover of 40 million Euros or more. The requirement takes a flexible, non-intrusive approach to disclosure in a company’s annual financial filings, says SASB, the organization in search of International Sustainability benchmarking and protocols.
Sustainable Structures *

In the newly adopted European amendment, companies may use just about any set of parameters to track and report on their "sustainability." That's in quotes because we're talking about everything from more efficient lightbulbs to fairer trade to tighter quality standards. Non-financial disclosure covers a lot of ground. To adhere to the new EU rule, a company who has to file can use any guidelines:
  1. International
  2. European 
  3. National guidelines which they consider appropriate, for example: 
  • the UN Global Compact (more)
  • ISO 26000 (more)
  • the German Sustainability Code (more)

Compared to U.S. disclosure

Disclosure in the U.S. focuses on the disclosure of material information to investors. Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court defines information to be material when it presents "a substantial likelihood that disclosure of the omitted fact would have been viewed by the reasonable investor as having significantly altered the total mix of information made available." Materiality cannot be viewed in isolation, but must be judged in the context of the “total mix” of information available to the securities markets, as interpreted and stated by Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, a law firm in San Diego, California.

The New York Times:
This [definition, above] is a subjective legal standard, so there is no bright line rule for what is material. Each situation is different. It also allows lawyers and others to argue that something is not material because they didn't think it was certain or important enough to affect the stock price of the company significantly. - Steven Davidoff Solomon on Corporate Disclosure, NYTimes
Why is material information useful to investors? Well, in theory, this sort of corporate insight provides perspective, trends leanings, possible risk areas, or potential groundwork for risk mitigation strategies and defensive legal arguments in the event of a penalty or lawsuit. Material information can also be helpful in making investment decisions, whether to buy, hold, or sell shares in a company, or how to vote on corporate matters like shareholder resolutions and corporate governance issues.

Meanwhile, the E.U. legislation's objective, says the European Commission, is promoting long term value creation through disclosure.

* Photo from Path of Life Garden, Vermont, USA

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update: Nat'l Strategy for Electronics Stewardship

Leaders from the United States White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. EPA, GSA, and U.S. Postal Service — along with electronics industry stakeholders — will hold a meeting on Monday, August 4, 2014 to discuss progress on the National Strategy on Electronics Stewardship and participation in the U.S. Postal Service BlueEarth® Federal Recycling Program.

E-waste of course is still a problem in today's gadget oriented societies. Following President Obama’s 2010 call for a taskforce on electronics stewardship, Federal agencies, in collaboration with other country’s governments, academia and the electronics industry, started an effort to establish a sustainable electronics stewardship strategy. The agencies have achieved many of the goals set out in the 2011 National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.

Notable achievements here are outlined in a document released today: Moving Sustainable Electronics Forward: An Update to the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.

The U.S. Postal Service BlueEarth® Federal Recycling Program is available to participating federal agencies and their employees to send used electronics through the mail to a certified electronics recycler at no cost to the agencies.

In 2013, approximately 973,000 federal employees and contractors were eligible to participate in the USPS BlueEarth®  Federal Recycling Program. With the recent participation of additional agencies, the program may now reach a potential of more than 1.7 million eligible federal employees and contractors.
Key players include:
  1. Kate Brandt, Federal Environmental Executive, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  2. Lisa Feldt, Associate Deputy Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Kevin Kampschroer, Deputy Senior Sustainability Official, U.S. General Services Administration
  4. Tom Day, Chief Sustainability Officer, U.S. Postal Service
WHAT: National Strategy on Electronics Stewardship Accomplishments

WHEN: Monday August 4, 2014, 10:00am EDT

HOW to participate: sorry, but you are not invited. Only media. Will keep you posted here on this blog if anything significant is announced.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Renminbi Talks: More US Companies Use Chinese Currency

Europeans have been increasingly using Chinese currency for international deals for years. But now U.S. companies are more frequently using the renminbi (RMB). In a notable trend, usage by U.S. companies has nearly doubled in the past year, says an HSBC study reported in Treasury & Risk.
renminbi talks

Usage of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) has nearly doubled in the past year.

The study polled 1,304 financial decision-makers at:
  1. companies that do business in mainland China and 
  2. companies in China that do business abroad. 
Among U.S. companies, 17 percent said they now do business in RMB, almost twice the 9 percent who said they did business in RMB last year.

French and German companies were much more likely to use RMB (26 percent and 23 percent, respectively), according to the study.

“We’re seeing a lot more interest in the RMB; people are understanding more about how the RMB trades and the liquidity,” said Martin Brown, executive vice president and head of large corporate banking at HSBC, speaking to Treasury & Risk.

Does it make business sense to trade internationally using RMB? Yes. But the road to h*** is paved with things that make good business sense.

We'll be watching for baby banyan tree offshoots from this trend in reliance on Chinese currency. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Important reminder for PIC exporters: new submission protocol

Starting March 1, 2014, new rules concerning export and import of hazardous chemicals were implemented in Europe. The revised Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation has gone into effect.

PIC regulates the import and export of very hazardous chemicals between the European Union and third countries, and implements the global Rotterdam Convention within the EU.

New submission PIC

The new submission system is called ePIC. Data you might need to migrate includes:
  1. export notifications
  2. special RIN requests
  3. details on mixtures and articles
In order to migrate data from the European Database of Export and Import of Dangerous Chemicals or EDEXIM to ePIC, some prep should be done.

The "ownership" of data must be digitally assigned to your company using a unique identifier that is recognised by both systems. This Legal Entity Universal Unique Identifier (LE UUID) can be obtained from the REACH-IT application.

Participants are advised to log into EDEXIM to see detailed instructions and to provide your LE UUID no later than August 22, 2014.

Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation affects all European Union based companies involved with the export or import of chemicals or articles containing chemicals. It allows entities (EU nations, essentially) to monitor and control the international trade of certain dangerous chemicals. The aim of PIC regulation is to share information on dangerous chemicals, including how to store, transport, use and dispose of these chemicals safely.

Want more? Useful webinar

New webinar 

26 August 2014, 11:00 - 13:00 Helsinki Time (EEST, GMT+3)
Webinar provides an overview of the ePIC tool used by industry to meet their obligations under the Prior Informed Consent Regulation. It will cover basic aspects of the tool such as the interface, buttons, search functions and other features.
I might just meet you on that webinar.