Client Alert

California Issues New Guidance for Alternatives Analysis for Safer Consumer Products

21 Dec 2016

California’s Green Chemistry Initiative has taken another step forward with proposed guidance on how to perform the required “alternatives analysis” by manufacturers of certain consumer products sold in the state.  The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the lead agency for the Safer Consumer Products Program, has issued a revised draft of its Alternatives Analysis Guide (Guide) that contains the first and second stages of the alternative analysis process.  (See prior MoFo client alert).

The program applies to consumer products designated as Priority Products and requires responsible entities, including manufacturers, importers, retailers, and assemblers to perform and submit to DTSC an alternative analysis to show whether toxic chemicals can be replaced by safer substances.  The regulations do not explicitly state how to perform the analysis, and DTSC has issued its guidance to provide methods, tools, information sources, and best practice approaches to assist in this task.

The first stage of the analysis is to prepare a preliminary report, including a work plan and proposed implementation schedule for completing the second stage and the final report.  During the second stage, a responsible entity follows its approved work plan to compare its product with alternative formulations and modalities for its manufacture and disposal.  These steps are summarized in the following table with corresponding guide chapters:




Identify product function, performance, and legal requirements






Information Needs and Transparency:

Identify the role of Chemicals of Concern


Identify alternatives


Data collection/research:

  • available information
  • available tools to determine potential impacts





Identify Relevant Factors:

Impact assessment

Initial evaluation and chemical screening


Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report preparation







Stage 2 evaluation of function, performance


Identify Relevant Factors:

Information Needs and Transparency:

Exposure assessment


Life Cycle Impact assessment


Economic analysis


Comparison and selection


Final Alternatives Analysis Report preparation





The Final Report must contain an in-depth analysis of the product function impacts and alternatives to establish the basis for the alternative selection and lay the foundation for determining the appropriate regulatory response by DTSC.  The report must also include a schedule for implementing an alternative, if selected.  In presenting the required information, the Final Report must include a comparison of the Priority Product and its alternatives, including:

  • a matrix, or other summary format;
  • a clear visual comparison summarizing the relevant comparison factors;
  • the relevant exposure pathways and life cycle segments;
  • the Priority Product and each alternative considered;
  • the comparative results of evaluating the above information;
  • a description of any relevant safeguards provided by other federal and California State regulatory programs that were considered; and
  • Selected alternative(s) and recommended next steps.”

After the responsible entity submits its Final Report, it will be available for public review and comment before DTSC determines if one or more regulatory responses will be implemented.

DTSC is accepting public comments on the Guide until January 20, 2017, and it will hold a webinar on January 10, 2017 to provide additional information.  A copy of the draft Guide can be found on the Green Chemistry portal web page at

Lois Miyashiro, an environmental analyst in the firm’s San Francisco office, assisted in the preparation of this client alert.

For more information, contact:

Peter Hsiao
(213) 892-5731



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