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Goods Made with Composite Wood Products Face New Labeling Requirements

Monday, August 01, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule to implement the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress in 2010 (in title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act) for imported and domestically produced composite wood products. The EPA states that this rule’s formaldehyde emission standards are identical to those in California’s “Phase 2” standards and that while it worked to align the rule’s other requirements with the California requirements there are a few differences.

As of one year after the rule is published (which should be soon) covered goods that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured or imported in the U.S. must be, and must be labeled as being, in compliance with these standards. Raw composite wood products (hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard and particleboard) will have to be labeled with the manufacturer’s name, lot number, third-party certifier number, and a statement that the products are TSCA Title VI compliant. Finished goods containing composite wood products (e.g., furniture, cabinets, flooring, picture frames, toys and building materials) must be labeled with the fabricator’s name, the date the good was produced, and a statement that the good is TSCA Title VI compliant. Finished goods, including component parts sold separately to end users, containing only a de minimis amount of regulated composite wood product (i.e., no more than 144 square inches) are excluded from the labeling requirements unless they are designed to be used in combination or in multiples to create larger surfaces, finished goods or component parts.

The rule also establishes a program under which third-party certifiers will test raw composite wood products to verify compliance (finished goods will not require testing and certification) and will be accredited to do so by EPA-recognized accreditation bodies. Accreditation bodies may begin to apply for accreditation 60 days after the rule is published, and third-party certifiers may apply to certify compliance after their accreditation body is recognized by the EPA and they are properly accredited. Composite wood products made with no-added formaldehyde and ultra-low emitting formaldehyde are eligible for less frequent testing or a two-year exemption from third-party testing and certification.

Other requirements in this rule include the following.

- Beginning two years after the rule is published, importers of regulated composite wood products or articles that contain them must comply with the import certification regulations for chemical substances in bulk and as part of mixtures and articles in 19 CFR 12.118 through 12.127

- Records must be kept for three years.

- Manufacturers must disclose formaldehyde testing results to their direct purchasers upon request.

- Laminated products not exempted from the definition of hardwood plywood must meet the hardwood plywood formaldehyde emissions standard seven years after the final rule is issued.

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