FPA’s Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Committee recently held its quarterly two-day meeting in Cincinnati, OH, hosted by Michelman. The regulatory issues most likely to affect the flexible packaging industry and developing comments in response to President Trump’s regulatory relief initiatives dominated the agenda. 

One of the issues needing serious discussion and formulating a strategy was the U.S. EPA’s Hazardous Chemical Reporting Advisory Alert. The Alert states that facilities in the plastics industry that use plastic resins are not reporting hazardous chemicals to state and local authorities as required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Following in-depth discussions with resin suppliers and the EPA, it was determined that the Alert applied only to powdered and granulated resins and not pallets that FPA converter members use. The determination was critical to avoid non-compliance citations and fines. The EPA Guidance, published at 75 Fed. Reg. 39852, July 13, 2010, provides additional information on reporting requirements, including when palletized resins, in rare situations, may be reportable under sections 311 and 312. The U.S. EPA, interestingly, has not issued a list of hazardous chemicals subject to this reporting, but rather relies on the definition of hazardous chemical under the OSHA regulations. 

Whenever possible, FPA invites guest speakers to the committee meetings to present on a specific topic. For this meeting, members heard from Andrew L. Kolesar, a Partner at Thompson Hine, who provided his perspective on managing environmental, safety, and enforcement issues.

The Committee tallied the industry’s wins and losses from EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement Rulemaking in which FPA been intensely involved. On balance, the Final Rule is favorable and offers many of the outcomes FPA sought during its discussions with the Agency, including submitting written comments after the Rule was proposed. Below are a few of the member benefits included in the Final Rule:

Significant cost savings by not requiring the proposed retesting and reporting of all waste streams generated, including re-approval of exempt status

Provision allowing satellite accumulation of wastes from co-owned facilities, provided the 90-day accumulation rule is not violated

Provision of an exclusion from large quantity generator status for episodic “clean ups” of site-wide hazardous waste

Removal of proposed unnecessary, unreasonable, and impractical requirements for periodic training exercises and coordination with Local Emergency Planning Coordinators

The FPA Environmental Issues Index was reviewed only briefly due to time constraints, but will be fully discussed during the next quarterly meeting in July. The Issues Index is a valuable reference document that is updated quarterly and lists major regulatory issues that the industry is likely to confront, and includes recommended actions FPA should take to minimize negative impact on its members.

For More Information

For more information on the FPA EHS Committee, or its activities, please contact Ram Singhal at rsinghal@flexpack.org or 410-694-0800.