Earlier this month, the American Coatings Association, or ACA, submitted comments to Environment Canada on the agency’s proposal for establishing volatile organic compound (VOC)/reactivity limits for aerosol coatings, urging Environment Canada to forgo development of a regulation at this time. Once again, ACA exhorted the agency to defer until the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has completed its rulemaking before making any decisions on aerosol coatings.

This past March, ACA attended a stakeholder meeting where Environment Canada discussed different control strategies that could be employed for aerosol coatings. At the meeting ACA noted that the California regulation for aerosol coatings is the subject of a rulemaking and will likely undergo significant changes later this year and in 2013. ACA and the aerosol coatings industry anticipate that there will be significant changes to the reactivity regulation, including the elimination of certain categories, the addition of new categories, adjustment of category definitions, and the inclusion of an updated Table of Maximum Incremental Reactivity (MIR) Values (adopted in late 2009 by the California Air Resources Board) to support the compliance calculations for aerosol coatings formulas.

In its most recent comments, ACA underscored that the governments of Canada and the United States have begun an initiative to harmonize regulations between our two countries and reduce the regulatory burdens on industry (United States – Canadian Regulatory Cooperation Council). Indeed, Canada has extended its efforts to reduce the compliance burden on industry through the Red Tape Reduction Commission. Moreover, ACA highlighted that most aerosol coatings in Canada already comply with the U.S. regulatory standards.

In fact, Environment Canada’s survey of aerosol coating manufacturers that supply Canada revealed that there were 3,208 unique aerosol coating products identified in the Canadian marketplace; of these products, 3,107 were found to be compliant with the California and U.S. EPA standards for aerosol coatings. Consequently, there were only 101 products that were not already compliant with the reactivity standards in the United States.

As such, ACA maintains that the emissions data does not support the development and adoption of a regulation at this time. Due to the fact that a very high number of aerosol coatings on the market in Canada already comply with the U.S. reactivity standard, development of a regulation will not result in significant emission reductions. According to Environment Canada’s questionnaire, the total number of aerosol coatings products resulted in VOC emissions of 3,821 tons. However, only 178 tons of VOCs are produced by those products that do not comply with the U.S. reactivity standards. Therefore, adoption of these standards will only reduce emissions by 42 tons.

ACA also argued that Environment Canada’s suggested alternative regulatory control instruments — Pollution Prevention Plans and Environmental Performance Agreements — are not warranted given that the data indicates very high compliance with the U.S. standards. Both of these control options, while they are more flexible than regulations, can be resource-intensive for the industry partners, particularly with regards to recordkeeping and reporting requirements which is directly contrary to the recommendations from the Canadian Red Tape Reduction Commission for reducing the paperwork burden on business. Given that there are a very small number of non-complying products, ACA believes that these efforts are far more burdensome than necessary to reach the 101 non-compliant products or approximately 3 percent of the total number of products sold in Canada.

Due to the relatively small emission reductions that will be achieved by development of a regulation or alternative control mechanism, the fact that a very small number of products are not already in compliance with the U.S. standards, the changing regulatory environment in California and potentially the U.S. EPA, and the likelihood that any new regulation developed at this moment in time will not harmonize with either the California or U.S. EPA regulation, ACA believes that the goals of Environment Canada and the industry are best served by waiting until the ARB completes its rulemaking. At that time, it will allow consideration of the revised regulatory standards, including the new categories and the updated Table of MIR Values.