The presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products has become a more pressing compliance issue. PFAS are known to be toxic to human health and the environment, and because they are persistent and bioaccumulative, they can be harmful long after their initial use.
Aiming to reduce the use of PFAS in products and understand how they have been used in manufacturing, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has issued a new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) PFAS reporting rule under section 8(a)(7) announced on September 28, 2023.
While addressing the environmental harm of PFAS through action is important for environmental sustainability, this new TSCA PFAS reporting rule poses many challenges for companies as they work to survey their supply chain for the necessary data, find alternative substances, and meet tight reporting deadlines.
New TSCA Reporting Rule for PFAS
What are the new reporting requirements?
The new TSCA PFAS reporting rule requires robust data and recordkeeping about the use of PFAS. Manufacturers and importers of PFAS will need to collect data such as the use, production/import volumes, byproducts, exposures and more.
There are two types of reporting companies may use: the full form or the streamlined form. Most manufacturers will need to use the full form for reporting. However, importers and companies using below 10 kg for research and development (R&D) purposes can use the streamlined form.
These records will include historical data for any PFAS used, manufactured, or imported since January 1, 2011. The records will need to be maintained for a period of five years after the last date of the information submission period.
What is the timeline for reporting?
The EPA has determined that businesses will have a one-year data collection period once the rule goes into effect followed by a six-month reporting period. This gives companies 18 months to comply with the new requirements.
Small manufacturers (as defined in 704.3) who only import articles with PFAS will be given an additional six months of reporting time, giving them a total of 24 months.
What PFAS are included?
The amount of PFAS found in the environment is extensive. However, the EPA has listed 1,462 PFAS that will be subject to these reporting requirements.
Who must meet the new requirements?
All companies who currently manufacture or import PFAS or have manufactured or imported PFAS at any point since January 1, 2011, are subject to this new reporting requirement.
There are no de minimis exemptions. However, companies that import less than 10g for R&D can use the shorter streamlined form for easier reporting.
There are only two exemptions to the new requirements:
- Companies that import municipal solid waste streams for the purpose of disposal or destruction do not have to report on the PFAS in that waste.
- Federal agencies that import PFAS unrelated to commercial activities do not have to report on PFAS.
TSCA PFAS Reporting Rule Compliance Challenges
In this new landscape of PFAS reporting, manufacturers and importers are going to be faced with challenges. The extensive scope of this regulation means that a large number of companies are going to gathering historical chemical data and looking to source alternative substances at the same time, leading to likely data-collection hurdles and shortages for in-demand materials.
Finding Alternative Substances
As these new PFAS requirements go into effect, many companies will be overhauling their supply chain as they search for new PFAS-free substances. The demand for these substances is going to intensify, which can pose cost and timing challenges.
Identifying the new substances needed and working to incorporate them into your supply chain as soon as possible is key. Otherwise, you will likely face shortages as other companies ahead of you may get access to the alternative substances and materials first.
Also be aware of the increased demand for the PFAS materials you already use. Because many companies will be phasing out PFAS, the demand for their remaining inventory will likely increase as companies race to obtain parts and materials essential to their products that they have not sourced an alternative material for yet.
This is a situation where advanced communication with your supply chain is critical to retaining access to the materials you need.
Supply Chain Communication Challenges
Challenges with your supply chain is not just limited to the physical materials. The data demand this new reporting requirement brings will likely strain companies at all levels of the supply chain.
Suppliers will face an increased demand for PFAS chemical data from almost all of their customers, which will be challenging for them to meet without increased resources. Customers looking for data may find it more challenging to get that data as suppliers scramble to meet everyone’s demands at once.
If you are a customer, get your requests into your suppliers as soon as possible, and set clear expectations for what data you need and when you need it. If you are a supplier, start gathering data on all PFAS in your products now if you haven’t already. Having this data already compiled will make it easier for you to quickly provide that data to the customers who need it and retain your customer base.
The costs for meeting these new reporting requirements will likely be high for companies across the board. Suppliers and customers alike may need additional resources both to meet data demand and to supply new PFAS-free materials.
If you haven’t already, begin budgeting for these additional resources now. A delay in implementing those additional resources will cost you critical time in meeting the new TSCA PFAS reporting requirements.
Steps for Compliance
For almost all companies, PFAS compliance is a new phenomenon. Here are steps you can take to ensure you can meet your reporting requirements.
- Determine you reporting obligations. Do you import or manufacture PFAS? Are you a small business? Do you only import small amounts of PFAS for R&D purposes? The first step in meeting this requirement is determining what your reporting burden is. Also check additional requirements; some states have other PFAS reporting requirements you may need to meet.
- Plan for additional resources. Begin budgeting your resources so you will be able to focus the needed resources on meeting these additional requirements. Will you need to shift employee responsibilities? Hire new workers? Upgrade or change the reporting software you use? Begin putting a plan in place as soon as possible.
- Make a data collection plan. Communicate with your supply chain as soon as possible. Determine where PFAS are present in your products, what suppliers you need to gather data from (or what internal chemical data you need to gather), and where you might need to begin sourcing alternative substances.
- Gather data. This step may take some time as suppliers are inundated with data requests. The EPA has given companies a year to gather necessary data, but in the scheme of things this is not a very long time. Begin gathering your PFAS data as soon as possible and keep it organized in an efficient tool.
- Find alternative substances. The goal of this reporting requirement is not just to gather data on PFAS, but to encourage manufacturers to use PFAS-free materials. As you are gathering data, you will also want to begin sourcing alternative materials for your products.
- Meet reporting requirements. Once you have the data needed, you can use either the standard form or the streamlined form to report your PFAS data.
Get PFAS Reporting Support
PFAS reporting requirements are a relatively new frontier when it comes to product compliance. If you are feeling overwhelmed with this and are unsure how to get started, contact Tetra Tech’s product compliance experts at [email protected]. We can help you establish PFAS reporting practices, communicate with your supply chain, and create an effective plan for meeting these new PFAS requirements.