I came across a curious press release from EPA today that announced that the Design for the Environment (DfE) program is "expanding its efforts." The method by which it is doing so is decidedly odd. In their own words:
"The EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is announcing an initiative to expand the Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) with chemicals in new and existing functional component classes. We are inviting chemical manufacturers to submit information on their safer chemicals to EPA for review and listing on the SCIL."
This is odd as DfE normally issues guidance first. For example, EPA has issued criteria for greener solvents that one is to follow when preparing a submittal for DfE. One complaint in the past was that the SCIL criteria are not relevant to active ingredient in pesticide formulations and the DfE response was to promise a new set of criteria for pesticide AIs, rather than follow the "General Screen" (which almost assures the AI will not pass the screen). [And in fact, the pilot program that DfE ran for antimicrobial AIs had very limited participation ...]
This "expansion" basically tells manufacturers to work with the DfE contractors (who are NSF International and ToxServices LLC) to prepare a submittal "based on the program’s safer chemical criteria" which "EPA will use the profile and Agency criteria and expertise to make the listing decision." So in other words, it will rely on existing guidance to make decisions on new DfE submittals and make a judgement call as to whether the submittal meets the criteria or not.
This case-by-case approach to regulation in the absence of clear and applicable guidelines is poor governance. If DfE wants to expand functional categories of safer chemicals, it should do the appropriate regulatory guidance development first. The current effort seems like the group is simply fishing for info on green replacements with little guidance.