FPA’s Environmental, Health & Safety Committee (EHS) held its quarterly meeting on July 18-19, 2017, and was hosted by Sun Chemical Corporation. On the agenda were a series of critical issues and action items to review including Presidential Executive Orders (EOs) related to environmental programs, the potential impact of recently signed EPA regulations on converters under the Amended Toxic Substances Control Act, and a recent federal court decision pertaining to the revised Definition of Solid Waste Rule.

The committee discussed the strategic value and timing of FPA’s proactive engagement with EPA and OSHA on upcoming rulemakings concerning hazardous air pollution standards and Process Safety Management (PSM), both of which are likely to impact FPA members. In preparation for the next steps with OSHA, a presentation by Sun Chemical’s engineering program leaders on PSM audits was given, followed by Q&A.

The Environmental Issues Index, which is updated quarterly, received an in-depth review resulting in an interactive dialog and a decision on future focus areas for the Committee. This document, posted on FPA’s website for members’ use, provides the status of various EPA programs and FPA involvement to reduce the economic burden on members. Highlights of the Committee proceedings follow.

Industry-Wide Pollution Reductions

The Committee has been evaluating the value of FPA developing a “Fact Sheet” that provides data about pollution reductions in terms of overall company emissions, energy usage, solid waste, and hazardous waste reduction. The industry initiatives and programs across the industry have been tremendously successful in reducing pollution, and the Committee hopes to be able to quantify these results for members for their future use.

Good News from the Federal Court for Recyclers

The EHS Committee reviewed the most recent federal court decision on EPA’s Definition of Solid Waste, or “DSW,” in American Petroleum Institute vs. EPA. The industry challenged certain provisions in EPA’s 2015 rule revisions meant to tamp down on any potential for sham recycling. The Court agreed with industry challengers that EPA had gone too far in trying to achieve this purpose. It added that several of the Agency’s restrictions on the use of third parties and refining the definition of “legitimate” recycling were unreasonable and inconsistent with the law. The Court focused on the unreasonableness of regulatory restrictions on materials that could be legitimately recycled, but the Agency required it to be comparable to virgin materials. The Court struck the requirement holding that it was unreasonable, especially since a material once used could reasonably be anticipated to acquire impurities through the process of being used, yet could be legitimately recycled, and that other rule restrictions ensure that it was treated as a valuable commodity.

The Committee will be studying the June 2016 decision further in the weeks ahead. Certainly, the Court decision – the eighth in a series of industry and/or environmental challenges to restrict recycling over the past several years – provides a path forward for states to implement the rule, thereby creating incentives and new avenues for the flexible packaging industry to recycle and reclaim certain production materials, such as solvents. FPA has been engaged in the rulemaking process since its inception because of its anticipated cost benefits to members.

Next EHS Committee Meeting

The next EHS Committee meeting will be held October 24-25, 2017, in the Research Triangle Park area, North Carolina. The Committee plans to meet with EPA officials at its Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS). Officials at OAQPS are charged with implementing a new federal court schedule for the “Risk and Technology Review” of the Paper and Other Web Coating MACT (POWC) standards that apply to certain processes used by the flexible packaging industry. FPA wants to ensure that EPA uses the most current and accurate emissions database in evaluating residual risk from this rule since an unfavorable determination will have significant cost implications for the industry. The Committee also hopes to meet with other EPA officials to discuss its Combined Air Emissions Reporting Rulemaking, part of EPA’s Next Generation Compliance Initiative and on FPA’s recommendations regarding New Source Review reforms. The Committee meeting is only open to FPA members.

For More Information

Please contact Ram Singhal at rsinghal@flexpack.org or 410-694-0800 if you have questions, or would like more information about the FPA EHS Committee.