FER Updates

Hey all!  We’re going to cover three topics in this blog, all related to FERs, Formaldehyde Emission Regulations. This is a lot for one blog, but I wanted to get out some quick updates to everyone. We’re going to talk quickly about TPCs, CANFER, and the TSCA laminator requirement.

First up:  TPCs. I’ve noted in the past that it’s necessary to stay up to date on the approval status of your EPA recognized TPCs. On Feb 23rd, Forestwood Industries’ (TPC-30) recognition to operate as a TPC was revoked by both the EPA and by CARB. The organization is no longer permitted to certify panel producers under either TSCA Title VI or CARB ATCM 93120.

Panel producers who were certified by Forestwood must obtain the services of another EPA/CARB-recognized TPC within 90 days while continuing to comply to all requirements of the rules and regulations (such as quality control testing) as applicable. Refer to 40 CFR 770.7 (f)(2) for more information and full details.

If you are buying from a mill that utilized TPC-30, you might consider taking additional actions to make sure they are behaving themselves during this transition period and that they are actively seeking the services of another TPC as quickly as possible.

Second, let’s talk CANFER. The regulation became effective on January 7 and I hope everyone has registered. Now the reg is a good thing; Canada needs to have the same standards as the U.S. and since the industry is almost uniformly compliant with TSCA Title VI, that should be easy. Fortunately, after the extensive commentary provided by associations like the NWFA, the Canadian government issued a regulation which largely aligns with TSCA Title VI. Largely, but definitely not perfectly.

The Right Reg Campaign has been co-founded by the NWFA and IWPA to work with the Canadian government to better align CANFER with TSCA Title VI and remove ambiguities between the two regulations. Of course, this is not just a flooring issue and other industries will be involved as well. The Right Reg has developed information for manufacturers or distributors selling in Canada to help you understand the issues.

Now, if you are a Canadian retailer and unaware that you now have new responsibilities under the law, best learn more here.

I’ll definitely go into more detail on CANFER issues in a future blog, but if you are doing business in Canada now, don’t wait for me—click through now!

Third, this is a reminder for all of you engineered flooring manufacturers out there.  Beginning March 22, 2024, TSCA Title VI requires that laminated product producers whose products are not exempted from the definition of hardwood plywood must achieve third party certification. Basically, if you are making your flooring by gluing a wood veneer or a “woody grass” (like bamboo) to a piece of plywood, MDF, or particleboard, that’s you, you’re a laminator.

While there are four potential paths to laminated products compliance under TSCA, only two are viable for a wood flooring manufacturer. The two that are NOT viable are 1) petition the EPA for a specific exemption for a glue system or production process. If you go this route, come prepared with stacks of scientific testing to show why this system will meet the required emission levels. 2) Stop using wood and start using paper or vinyl as your surface layer. Not likely right?

So that takes us to the two choices you’re likely to follow.

The first path to compliance is meeting all the responsibilities of hardwood plywood panel producers, including becoming certified by a recognized TPC. There are a couple of routes to certification, which the TPC can discuss with you, but whichever way you go, you’ll need to comply with the recordkeeping and testing requirements and other responsibilities. If you don’t have a lab, you may need to build one (or you’ll be outsourcing your testing). Basically, you become recognized and certified as a plywood manufacturer. Contact a TPC today to start that process!

Of course the second choice that might work for many is to add that top layer to your TSCA Title VI certified panel utilizing either a no-added formaldehyde (NAF) or phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin. You’ll need to keep records available showing that you purchased and utilized the appropriate panels and resins, but you won’t have to go through the entire certification process.

Note that your required emission levels are the same as plywood, which should not be too difficult for most manufacturers.

BTW, the loss of the Russian plywood supply has forced many manufacturers to change their construction. If you are now building a lumber core floor (not utilizing plywood, MDF, or particleboard cores), then that construction is not covered by the regulation and you can proceed without further work.

Oh, and sign up now for the Due Care training being held at the NWFA facilities in May.  We’ve got two and half days on Lacey, Customs rules, risk assessment, managing your supply chain, etc., plus a half day just on formaldehyde! Doesn’t matter where you are in the supply chain, you need to conduct due care!

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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