New VOC Regulations on Cleaning Products: What You Need To Know

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are gases released into the atmosphere during the use of a wide range of consumer and commercial products and are harmful to human health. These compounds are key contributors to ground-level ozone and particulate matter, two major components of smog formation. Smog has far-reaching detrimental effects on both human health and the environment, making the regulation of VOCs a priority.

Expanding the Environmental Protection Act

Since 1999, Canada’s Environmental Protection Act has outlined VOC regulations for specific product categories, such as automotive refinishing products and architectural coatings. However, in recent years, it’s become evident more comprehensive regulations were needed to meet national and international commitments on air quality.

To address this, Canada introduced new regulations on January 5, 2022, known as the “Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulation.” These regulations are a crucial step toward reducing VOC emissions and improving indoor and outdoor air quality.

Affected Product Types

A wide range of product types and categories are affected by the legislation, including personal care products, automotive and household/facility maintenance products such as:

  • Heavy-duty hand cleaner/soap
  • Metal polish or cleaner
  • Air fresheners
  • Bathroom and tile cleaners
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaners
  • Disinfectants
  • Floor maintenance products (floor wax stripper, floor polish/wax)
  • General -purpose hard surface cleaners or degreaser
  • Glass cleaners
  • Toilet or urinal cleaning/deodorizing products

Canada’s regulations set VOC concentration limits for approximately 130 product categories and subcategories. Manufacturers and importers must ensure that products released into the Canadian market meet these VOC standards. Manufacturers are required to keep records regarding regulated products for a period of a minimum of five years.

For more details on VOC limits and exceptions, visit Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulation.

A Good News Story!

Many manufacturers have confirmed the effectiveness of their products will not be impacted by the new regulations, but through adaptation to meet the new requirements, products will become safer for the environment. At the same time, reducing VOCs improves indoor air quality where cleaning products are being used, creating a safer workplace for cleaning teams and a safer indoor environment for building occupants.

Transition Period

To facilitate the transition to these new regulations, a sell-through period has been established. Products manufactured and imported into Canada prior to January 1, 2024 (or January 1, 2025 for disinfectants) can continue to be sold for an unlimited period. To qualify for this sell-through period, products must bear a date code indicating manufacture before the effective date and must physically be in Canada before the established deadlines.

Exclusions

It’s important to note that products regulated under the Pest Control Products Act are not covered by the Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulation. Examples of these excluded products include herbicides, insecticides, and sanitizers.

What Steps Should YOU Take?

A commitment to environmental protection and public and employee health is an important responsibility for all facility cleaning and maintenance leaders and building owners. Canada’s new VOC regulations provide an opportunity to review cleaning products used to complete specific cleaning protocols, verify the specific manufacturers are making the necessary refinements to these products, and/or transitioning to alternative products with environmentally preferable formulations. Work with your Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene product expert to understand your current product set. They’ll help you evaluate VOC level compliance as well as fit for purpose and the latest, industry-leading product innovations and alternatives. They can also introduce you to an exclusive new eco-friendlier cleaning chemistry line, brought to you by REGARD.

If you’re committed to developing a more sustainable product assortment or cleaning program? Reach out to your Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene expert or contact us today!

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