Frequently Asked Questions: Labeling
(HWPW = hardwood plywood; HWPW-VC = hardwood plywood veneer core; HWPW-CC = hardwood plywood composite core; PB = particleboard; MDF = medium density fiberboard)
1. Will CARB accept composite wood products and finished goods labeled as being compliant with the U.S. EPA TSCA Title VI formaldehyde regulation? Yes. CARB will accept composite wood products and finished goods labeled as being TSCA Title VI compliant with the ATCM. It is important to note that a CARB-approved TPC certifies that a manufacturer's composite wood products (e.g., hardwood plywood) comply with the identical formaldehyde emission standards found in both CARB's airborne toxic control measure and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's composite wood products act, Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA Title VI regulation requires composite wood products to be third-party certified in a similar manner as required by CARB.
All composite wood products and finished goods sold in California must be labeled regardless of their size. The TSCA Title VI regulation does not require labeling of finished goods that contain less than 144 square inches of composite wood material, although that material must still be compliant with emission standards. CARB’s regulation has no minimum size requirement for labeling protocol; therefore, the most stringent requirement applies for composite wood and finished goods that may be sold in California. (Note: Until businesses and consumers become familiar with the TSCA title VI label, businesses may want to label products as being both TSCA Title VI and CARB Phase 2 compliant.)
2. Will CARB accept a statement of compliance regarding TSCA Title VI on an invoice or bill of lading? Yes. CARB will accept a TSCA Title VI statement of compliance on an invoice or bill of lading for the purpose of recordkeeping. The statement of compliance on an invoice or bill of lading is not a substitute for product labeling requirements. The composite wood panel producer associated with the statement of compliance must be certified by a CARB-approved third-party certifier.
3. In some upholstered products, the frame is cut from plywood, but the products are covered in material. How should such products be labeled as compliant finished goods? It is up to the fabricator to decide how to label the upholstered product - the label (e.g., tag and statement on the invoice) could be affixed with a staple and must clearly state that the product is legal for sale in California.
4. Is labeling the packaging on bulk products permitted? For example, can a single label be attached to the outer packaging material of a skid of work surfaces? The ATCM requires that a label shall be applied on "every finished good produced, or on every box containing finished goods." One label on the box will comply with the ATCM; however, we strongly recommend that both the box and finished good be labeled.
5. Can the label identifying the manufacturer's name and the date of manufacture be a separate label from the label that states that the product was made with Phase 2 compliant hardwood plywood, particleboard, and/or medium density fiberboard? Separate labels can be used to identify fabricator name, production date, and that the finished good was made with complying composite wood products, as long as the labels are all visible (e.g., inside a cabinet door or on the back of a credenza).
6. If an unboxed or blanket-wrapped chair, desk, and shelving unit were packed on a single skid, would a single label still apply? If three different finished goods were all packed on a single skid, each would need a separate label. (Each product might contain different compliant materials.)
7. What is the expectation for labeling if the finished product contains components from various board manufacturers? Hypothetically, an order for 10,000 bookcases involves 3 mills and 5 dates of board manufacture (i.e., production). What level of traceability is acceptable? Is it sufficient to list the mills that provide board product for any of those 10,000 bookcases? The label for finished goods only require the fabricator name, production date, and a marking or brief statement to denote that the product complies with the applicable Phase 2 emission standard in section 93120.2 (a) (or that the composite wood products in the finished good were made with no-added formaldehyde (NAF) or ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins. The fabricator label does not need to include the name of the panel manufacturer. The fabricator needs to keep records of panel purchases to demonstrate that all composite wood products used in the finished good comply with the ATCM. Records on the amount of composite wood used to make finished goods would need to reasonably match the amount of complying composite wood purchased from composite wood product mills.
8. When can a manufacturer of particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium density fiberboard officially designate their composite wood products as CARB-compliant (or refer to their low-emitting products) on their boards? Manufacturers cannot officially label their products as CARB-compliant, or refer to their product as low-emitting, until they have been approved to do so by a CARB-approved third-party certifier and, in the case of products made with NAF or ULEF resins, by the CARB Executive Officer.
9. Is there a "set label" that should be applied on finished goods labels? There is no set requirement or restriction on the label material in the regulation. The regulation requirements on labeling do not require the use of any logo. These provisions are contained in section 93120.7(d)(1), and require that the label include: the name of the fabricator, the date of production and a short statement to indicate Phase 2 emissions are being met in the finished good. For more information on labeling requirements, including example labels, please refer to our enforcement advisory regarding labeling.
10. We receive bundles of composite wood products such as hardwood plywood, which are broken down to several customers. What labeling requirements do we have? If a group of items are labeled and then divided and distributed separately, each separate item must be labeled with the same information as required on the original label. It would be acceptable if you take the label that was affixed to the original bundle or shipping pallet, photocopy the label and affix one to each subset created.
11. A final finished product may be composed of numerous small pieces of wood, potentially from various vendors. How much detail is required to document the chain of custody? That is, can chain-of-custody be established for each batch of material used before the different pieces are combined into the final product? Or does each individual piece in each final product need a chain of custody? At a minimum, records must be kept documenting purchases of compliant composite wood products – HWPW, PB, and MDF Where different pieces are combined in a final product, fabricators should be able to demonstrate how many final products were made using the regulated materials, so a determination can be made if an appropriate supply of raw materials was purchased to make the reported amount of final product.
In the case where there are multiple suppliers of MDF, for example, records need to show that an appropriate amount of final goods were made from the amount of MDF purchased for use. It is important that the supplier(s) can be identified. For a given volume of finished goods, fabricators must be able to demonstrate the amount of MDF, etc. that was used, and records showing that enough compliant MDF was purchased to make the amount of final products that were sold.
12. Certain mills are following California's Proposition 65 and OSHA requirements for formaldehyde warnings on all products containing such. Does this also present additional issues with CARB enforcement? No, that is a separate issue from the composite wood products regulation. The regulation is clear as to how products containing Phase 2 compliant materials need to be labeled, and if there is no label, then we must assume that the product does not contain compliant materials.
13. Must the fabricator's name be on the product or box, if traceability is apparent through use of visible batch code or other identification? Due to the nature of the import business, many importers and distributors avoid sharing their suppliers with potential competitors. The regulation requires that the fabricator's name, and the date the finished good was produced, is applied as a stamp, tag, sticker, or bar code on every finished good produced, or on every box containing finished goods, provided that it is destined for sale or supply in California. The wood products industry often uses brand names or other means to conceal trade secrets such as which manufacturer or fabricator makes a certain product. In recognition of this, as an accepted practice, ARB will allow some flexibility in the labeling requirement for manufacturer or fabricator name. It is the intention of the ATCM that the name be included on the label to easily identify the party responsible for the formaldehyde emission characteristics of the board. It is acceptable for a distributor/importer to replace an original label with a label listing their company name as long as all other information required on the original label is retained. It should also be noted that if an importer or distributor replaces a label on a finished good, then they assume the liability for the finished good as a fabricator.
14. What labeling and notification language is acceptable for fabricators of finished goods containing composite wood products? The regulation requires fabricators to clearly label finished goods containing HWPW, PB or MDF. CARB strongly recommends labeling of both the finished good and the box the finished good is contained in. Labels must include, at a minimum, the following information:
- fabricator's name,
- date the finished good was produced, and
- a statement of compliance to denote that the composite wood product or finished good complies with the ATCM. Finished goods made with all NAF or all ULEF based resins shall be labeled as such.
The intent of the statement must be clear in indicating compliance with the ATCM and should refer to California, or CARB, and include section 93120. For example, a statement of compliance may read "California 93120 Compliant for Formaldehyde."
- What labeling requirements apply if a finished good only contains NAF products? Products need to be labeled as "NAF" (example: "product was made with NAF resin")
- What labeling requirements apply if a finished good only contains ULEF products? Products needs to be labeled as "ULEF" (example: "product was made with ULEF resin")
- What labeling requirements apply if a finished good contains NAF and ULEF products? The label need to indicate that the product was made with "NAF and ULEF resin" (example: "product was made with NAF and ULEF resin")
- What labeling requirements apply if a finished good contains NAF/ULEF and Phase 2 products? The label should indicate that the finished good contains products that were made with materials that meet Phase 2 emission standard and products containing NAF/ULEF resins ('product contains Phase 2 products and NAF/ULEF products)
- Should fabricators label their finished goods as "CARB-exempt" if they use products containing NAF/ULEF-based resin? No. NAF/ULEF products are not exempt; rather they are subject to different requirements (exemption from third-party certification or reduced testing requirements) as compared to Phase 1/Phase 2 products.
15. Do component parts need to be labeled? Components parts or replacement parts that are sold and/or supplied as individual items to anyone in commerce (individual finished goods, e.g., in a situation where a consumer is buying a replacement part such as a cabinet door or warranty replacement item) are subject to labeling requirements.
Component parts and/or replacement parts, that are supplied to a fabricator (e.g., from a fabricator of component parts), and will be used in a finished good, do not need to be labeled but the invoice or bill of lading must include the statement of compliance to indicate that the shipment of components parts or replacement parts are made of complying composite wood products.
16. What is meant when a third-party certifier number is on the label of a finished good? Fabricators of finished goods (e.g., flooring, cabinets and furniture) are required to use compliant composite wood material, but are not required to be third-party certified. When a fabricator puts a third-party certifier (TPC) number on a finished good label, they are stating that all composite wood products contained in the finished good were produced by a panel manufacturer that was certified by that TPC. A TPC number is not required to be on a finished good label. The presence of a TPC number on a finished good label does not mean that a TPC has tested the finished good or that a TPC has verified that all composite wood material contained in a finished good complies with the emission standards.
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