Many businesses recognize the value of participating in their industry’s trade association, whether for political advocacy, best practices information or access to others in the industry. However, awareness and support of supplier industries can also be an important part of supporting business interests. The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) represents the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry, which is a major supplier for adhesive and sealant formulators. In addition to working for sensible, business-friendly laws and regulations, SOCMA member companies go above and beyond as responsible businesses to improve their environment, health, safety, and security (EHS&S) standards using the association’s proprietary stewardship program, ChemStewards®.
Regulatory IssuesIn a time of increasingly stringent and anti-manufacturing regulatory measures, adhesive and sealant formulators can look to their suppliers for support. Many of SOCMA’s member companies supply into the adhesives and sealants industry. This key industry sector is kept in mind as SOCMA addresses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) changing approach to chemicals regulation, along with one of the biggest regulatory issues to face the chemical industry in years: the potential overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
As public sentiment turns toward fear-based chemical regulation, legislators have repeatedly drafted or introduced bills in recent years that would replace the TSCA with a system similar to the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH). These onerous plans would remove pragmatic risk-based prioritization from the U.S. chemical management system and only serve to further fuel the unrealistic panic about chemicals in consumer and industrial settings.
The proposed overhaul would affect not only the chemical manufacturing industry, but also every other producer or distributor in the supply chain in a variety of sectors, including the adhesives and sealants industry. The panic fueling this debate has already caused product and supplier changes in the industry-in many cases before any regulatory action has even been taken, as seen in the recent flurry of “BPA-free” products and bans by retailers of highly publicized substances.
SOCMA has been involved on behalf of industry in the current debate before Congress to update the TSCA. In the past year alone, SOCMA has testified before committees in both the House and Senate on the importance of taking a tailored approach to TSCA reform. SOCMA has publicly supported two primary principles in any update to the TSCA: focusing on a tailored, risk-based structure; and leveraging existing programs that work, rather than reinventing the wheel.
“SOCMA members agree that TSCA can be modernized and that our chemicals policy goals can be accomplished in a way that doesn’t devastate a strategic American industry that is already fighting recession and foreign competition,” said Beth Bosley of Boron Specialties in testimony on behalf of SOCMA before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March.
Termed the “Safe Chemicals Act,” the current legislation being considered by Congress would require no fewer than 300 chemicals to be maintained on a “priority list” at all times; vastly increase the data and testing requirements for existing chemicals; and particularly impact the management of chemical intermediates and industrial chemicals, many of which are manufactured by SOCMA members and used in adhesive and sealant formulations. If implemented, these requirements could have serious and wide-reaching effects on the supply chain as manufacturers and users of chemicals with extremely limited exposure potential are forced to reevaluate their product formulations.
While Congress considers TSCA modernization, the EPA has taken the initiative in introducing its Chemical Action Plans (CAPs), which outline the agency’s plans to assess and take action on chemicals it has chosen to review. Thus far, the EPA has introduced five of these plans, which may ultimately lead to new labeling or testing requirements, restriction, or outright bans of the chemicals in question. The agency has already begun work on a CAP for diisocyanates that has potential ramifications for the adhesives and sealants industry. SOCMA has kept close watch on these plans as they have been made public and will continue to advocate for reasonable actions as a result of the EPA’s consideration.
Member ActivitiesGrassroots member support underscores SOCMA’s activities on behalf of the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry. In addition to frequently testifying on SOCMA’s behalf before congressional committees, SOCMA members steer the association’s policy positions and participate in the association’s advocacy programs.
SOCMA recently held its annual Washington Fly-In, during which members from across the U.S. visited Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials and discuss legislative issues of importance to their companies, including chemical site security, TSCA, and support for trade. These members’ contributions are vital to legislative success, both in terms of educating Congress members who are unfamiliar with manufacturing and in providing Congress with a face for the impact on businesses and employees of the laws and regulations affecting the chemical industry.
Year-round, SOCMA members invite their congressional representatives to visit and take tours of their production facilities in order to further foster understanding between legislators and the chemical manufacturing industry. SOCMA members also send hundreds of letters a year to Congress using SOCMA’s online letter-writing system.
In addition to advocacy in Washington, SOCMA members’ commitment to superior EHS&S standards and performance improvement through SOCMA’s ChemStewards program is a benefit to manufacturers in the adhesives and sealants industry. The EHS&S improvement program, designed specifically for batch, custom and specialty chemical producers, helps ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations while boosting profitability through the improvement of processes and the identification of inefficiencies. (See the sidebar for additional details.)
“For many years, our company worked hard and did a lot of things to try to achieve ‘world-class’ EHS&S performance,” said Bryan Shaffer of McGean. “ChemStewards membership and implementation of the ChemStewards management system has enabled us to take our programs to the next level.”
About SOCMAThrough its constant efforts as both a government watchdog and industry advocate, and through its ChemStewards EHS&S program for the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry, SOCMA is ensuring a stronger supply chain for adhesives and sealants manufacturers. SOCMA has represented this diverse membership of small, medium and large chemical companies since 1921.
For more information about SOCMA’s activities, visit www.socma.com.
About ChemstewardsChemStewards, SOCMA’s EHS&S continuous performance improvement program, was created from industry’s commitment to reducing the environmental footprint left by members’ facilities. As a mandatory requirement for SOCMA members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of synthetic and organic chemicals, ChemStewards helps participants reach for superior EHS&S performance. Participants receive:
- Comprehensive ChemStewards implementation guidance
- User-friendly manuals
- Online education and assistance
- Opportunities to participate in regional meetings
- Site visits
- Peer-to-peer consultations