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AHFA: Many Home Furnishings Companies Will Soon Face TSCA Fees

The Toxic Substances Control Act fees rule will require companies that import furniture containing formaldehyde to pay a fee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later this year.

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Companies that import furniture containing formaldehyde are subject to a provision of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that will require them to pay a fee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) later this year. 

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has prepared a fact sheet for the industry on the TSCA “fees rule.” Companies interested in receiving a copy should email their request to AHFA Vice President of Communications Patricia Bowling at pbowling@ahfa.us.   

The rule was part of several 2016 amendments to TSCA that gave the EPA expanded authority to collect fees from chemical manufacturers and importers to help defray expenses associated with implementing TSCA – namely the expense of conducting risk evaluations for each of the “high priority” chemicals identified by EPA. The agency finalized the rule in 2018.
In December 2019, EPA announced 20 chemicals as “high priority,” meaning they warrant further risk assessments under TSCA. Formaldehyde, along with other chemicals frequently found in plastics, cleaners and flame retardants, were on this list. 

Companies that manufactured any of the high priority substances in the past five years must comply with the fees rule and share in the cost of the risk assessments – estimated at $1.35 million per chemical.

But companies that import high priority chemicals within component parts of finished goods, as defined by TSCA, also are subject to the fee-sharing provision. For the furniture industry, this means importers of products containing formaldehyde (or any of the other listed chemicals) are subject to the rule. 

EPA has published a list of formaldehyde manufacturers but is seeking industry assistance in creating the list of importers of finished goods containing formaldehyde. This list would include all importers of furniture containing composite wood made with a formaldehyde-based resin, including hardwood plywood, particleboard or medium density fiberboard. 

EPA requires these importers to “self-report” by registering on the agency’s electronic reporting site, called the Central Data Exchange (www.cdx.epa.gov). EPA has the authority to pursue significant penalties against companies that do not self-report and/or fail to pay an assessed fee.

Companies must complete this self-reporting by May 27, 2020. The reporting deadline originally was March 27. EPA announced a 60-day extension on March 9.

The cost-sharing bills are expected to be issued by EPA in August, with payments due in October, according to the rule.

On February 26, AHFA held a webinar for its member companies providing insight on the impact of the fees rule on the home furnishings industry. That presentation is available to AHFA members in the Formaldehyde Compliance Toolbox on the AHFA member website. (Member log in is required.)

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