Staying Compliant with VOC Regulations

September 15, 2015

By now, you and your team are aware of stricter VOC regulations implemented both within the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., many states are using California’s VOC laws as a guideline for strengthening their laws — and their penalties.
What does this mean for your company? As VOC regulations tighten across the board, noncompliant manufacturers will be subject to increasingly harsher penalties.
Here are the risks of failing to comply with VOC regulations.

  1. Fees and fines. The California Air Resources Board charges manufacturers a fee based on the tonnage of VOCs in their products and can charge hefty fines — up to $50,000 per day — if you exceed certain limits. California’s VOC ceiling for flats, nonflats and PSU is 50 grams per liter, and states including New York are considering adopting similar standards. Canada has also expressed interest in adopting California’s standards nationwide. Meanwhile, California lawmakers are contemplating even stricter standards and heavier fines.
  2. False advertising lawsuits. If you market a product as “low VOC” or “no VOC” based on an assumption that the ingredients are compliant, you run the risk of noncompliance with Federal Trade Commission labeling guidelines. The FTC may send your company a warning letter notifying you of claims that could be perceived as false or misleading to customers. A warning letter is exactly that – your opportunity to work with the FTC to revise or remove claims that are not compliant. If you fail to address compliance concerns, the FTC can file a lawsuit against your company forcing you to take action.
  3. Lost business. Noncompliance with VOC regulations can hurt your company’s bottom line beyond fees and fines. If your products are sold in retail stores, you could be subject to a random off-the-shelf product test at any time. If your test sample exceeds local VOC regulations, your business could face stiff government penalties, including orders to remove your products from store shelves.

Noncompliance also prevents you from selling products to certain green builders. Builders who are Green Seal certified or who are members of the Green Builders Association often take part in projects that demand suppliers and vendors follow VOC regulations.

How to avoid noncompliance penalties
To avoid fees, lawsuits and other penalties for VOCs, choose partners that can help you remain in compliance and adapt as the acceptable amount of VOC g/L of product decreases.
Your colorant supplier is one such partner that can help you with this.  A knowledgeable supplier will work with you to ensure that the colorants used in your manufacturing process or stores meet mandatory VOC regulations. Many colorant suppliers also help their customers comply with FTC guidelines by offering VOC testing at their labs. Your supplier’s technical director and technical staff should be able to tell you the exact amount of VOCs present in the colorant.
To be safe, make sure your colorant supplier is a member of an accredited professional organization for your industry, such as the American Coatings Association for paints and coatings. These organizations will provide up-to-date data, reporting and trend information about VOC regulations to help members stay compliant for customers.
It’s critical that your business remain acutely aware of VOC compliance laws anywhere it does business, as the ultimate responsibility for VOC compliance falls on you. But with the right colorant partner in place, you can ensure that you can adapt to new guidelines and avoid costly penalties for noncompliance.

Chromaflo Technologies is a member of the American Coatings Association (ACA), with representatives sitting on national ACA committees that help oversee VOC regulations and VOC compliance. Contact us at (440) 997-5137 to discuss VOC regulations, testing or compliance standards.

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