The Canadian government has released their first draft of their new “FER” (Formaldehyde Emissions Regulation.) The regulation is open for public comment until mid September. The exact date it will impact the market will depend on the comments received and how they decide to respond to the feedback. 

There are definite similarities to CARB/TSCA. First, this regulation also covers plywood, MDF and particleboard and most importantly establishes the same emission limits.

There are several differences that won’t be too bad for most companies to adapt to—for example record keeping requirements are for five years (as opposed to three for TSCA and two for CARB.) 

Other differences might easy to understand yet lead to some cost impacts or possibly some market confusion if you sell in both countries. For example the proposed labels will have slightly different compliance statements than TSCA uses because the Canadians would like to make a distinction between routes to compliance on their labels. This definitely could confuse the market. Canada also wants all labels to be bilingual (and for some reason they have specified that there must be a border around the statement.) So you might end up having one giant label or opt for two label versions (TSCA and a bordered bilingual Canadian one) or worse, maybe two box designs—one for your US business and one for your Canadian. 

The big differences will need to be considered carefully. First, the regulation proposes adding coverage to engineered flooring products, so manufacturers will need to look into getting ready for this well in advance of TSCA’s expected inclusion of laminated products. Second, the regulation could be summarized somewhat as “DIY TSCA.” That is, the Canadian government has proposed that manufacturers develop a system of testing and record keeping that is largely the same as the TSCA program BUT the manufacturer must administer the program directly, rather than have direct third party oversight by an accredited TPC as is required by TSCA.  (However, they are required to use a recognized TPC for their testing.)  And to ensure that they are following the rules, they must send in a very detailed report to the Canadian government once a year.  These are some of the notes in a nutshell.  As always, the details are more complex.  I’ll be following up in more detail as we dig deeper into the regulation’s specifics (and the secondary document specific to the testing protocols). And remember, this is still just a draft…but yes, it is coming time to welcome a new entrant to our FER world.

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Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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