Attorney General Mayes Leads Multi-State Coalition Supporting Stronger EPA Safer Choice Standards

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mayes this week led a multi-state coalition in submitting comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), proposing significant updates to the Safer Choice Standards. The attorneys general emphasize the importance of adopting a holistic 'cradle-to-grave' approach for assessing product life cycles and the need for an in-house audit team to verify safer chemical usage in products.

"As attorneys general, we recognize the importance of ensuring the highest standards for consumer products," said Attorney General Mayes. "The proposed updates to the EPA's Safer Choice Standards reflect our commitment to safeguarding our communities and fostering a market that values sustainable, safe alternatives. Our recommendations aim to strengthen these standards, ensuring they remain effective and relevant in promoting a healthier environment and protecting public health."

Key recommendations include the strict non-certification of products containing PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known for their harmful environmental and health impacts. The attorneys general also expressed their deep concern about the environmental impact of plastic packaging. The submitted comments urge the EPA to avoid certification of products with plastic primary packaging and to develop a phasedown plan for such currently certified products to encourage non-plastic alternatives. 

The attorneys general also raised concerns about labeling certain products as "flushable wipes," emphasizing the need for these products to meet rigorous standards of flushability before being certified. This is crucial to prevent plumbing blockages and environmental issues, as many products labeled as flushable do not disintegrate effectively in water systems, leading to significant infrastructural and environmental challenges.

The attorneys general also voiced support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking Safer Choice certification. This would foster innovation and compliance among all market players, ensuring safer products for consumers and the environment.

The EPA's Safer Choice Standards are guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify and certify products that are safer for human health and the environment. These standards focus on reducing hazardous chemicals and promoting eco-friendly ingredients in various consumer and industrial products.

Products that meet these rigorous criteria are awarded the Safer Choice label, signaling to consumers that they are choosing items with safer chemical compositions. This program plays a crucial role in guiding both manufacturers and consumers toward more sustainable and health-conscious product choices.

The comments submitted by the attorneys general also address the need for greater transparency in product profiling and call for the removal of clauses potentially undermining the program's effectiveness. These updates are proposed to ensure that the Safer Choice label remains a gold standard for environmental and human health safety in the product market.

Attorney General Mayes is joined in submitting these comments by the attorneys general of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. The coalition is also joined by the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York.