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JPAC Advice on Supply Chain Transparency for Chemicals in Products

Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) Submits Advice to Council of North America’s Environment Ministers Following Public Consultation.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) has just submitted a new Advice to the CEC Council regarding a new CEC project aiming to advance supply chain transparency in North America. The advice stemmed from a public consultation on the proposed project  conducted from 14 March to 4 April 2022. JPAC received wide range of feedback from the public, from identifying a lack of information from suppliers related to recycled materials, to market trends responding to the increasing public demand for healthy products.

The participants, representing different stakeholders throughout the region, shared their thoughts and provided input on challenges and issues related to supply chain transparency of chemicals in products and ways to support implementation of the CEC’s upcoming project. Many participant comments were related to local issues, but a common theme was the clear need for greater transparency.

In its Advice, JPAC recognized participants’ concerns and noted that increasing supply chain transparency for chemicals in products is essential for the long-term protection of public health and that of the environment. The Committee also agreed that providing sufficient information to support clear, open, and transparent stakeholder engagement is essential for public consultations.

Feedback was categorized in three ways:

1. Challenges: Missing pieces in the transparency process

Participants voiced concerns about the lack of information regarding the chemical content of recycled materials, on the lack of updated scientific information, and the lack of standardized templates and definitions which can impede the sharing of information between businesses and upstream users.

They also identified other potential challenges related to confidential business information and the lobbying from some associations to limit public access to information.

2. Issues: Barriers that could restrict transparency

Respondents at the public consultation identified potential barriers to transparency that should be considered as part of the project’s implementation. These include the boundaries of disclosure, information about the life cycles of products, as well as the need for a common understanding of current requirements across Canada, Mexico, and the United States for various types of products.

In addition, participants demonstrated particular interest about chemicals employed in agriculture, with livestock, in the food industry, and aerosol products, as well as how toxic chemicals can impact the neurodevelopment of children.

3. Approach: Preliminary solutions to reach the goals

The participants had the opportunity to provide some recommendations that could help improve transparency in the supply chain for chemicals in products. These included the creation of an accepted substance list to prevent harmful chemicals from reaching the market in products, and the input of relevant stakeholders and regulatory agencies in defining what constitutes a substance of concern.

NOTE: The CEC Council is composed of Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources María Luisa Albores González, and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan.

About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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