In 2009, WVE teamed up with Earthjustice to take cleaning product giants Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Church & Dwight, and Reckitt Benckiser to court for refusing to follow a 1976 New York state law requiring them to disclose ingredients in their products.
The law, passed in 1976, requires cleaning product companies selling their products in NY state to file reports with the state listing the chemical ingredients in their products and disclosing any company research on a chemical’s’ health and environmental effects. But in the three decades since the law was passed, companies failed to file a single report. In 2008, Earthjustice sent letters to more than a dozen asking them to comply. Four companies refused, and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of WVE, American Lung Association, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Environmental Advocates of New York, New York PIRG, River Keeper, and Sierra Club.
In August 2010, New York Supreme Court Justice Richard F. Braun dismissed Women’s Voices for the Earth, Inc v. Procter & Gamble Company for lack of standing without ruling on its merits. As we readied to appeal the court decision, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis, announced that the agency would implement the law and begin requiring companies to reveal the ingredients in their products and any health risks they pose.
Implementation: The Latest
WVE was one of a select group of stakeholders invited by DEC to negotiate a timetable for implementation and methods for making the disclosure public. In an October meeting, WVE was the lead among a group of advocates facing major companies like Colgate Palmolive, representatives from the American Cleaning Institute and American Chemistry Council, and more. While no decisions were made at this October meeting, DEC made it clear that they have broad authority to implement the law in a way that best serves the public’s interest.
In late October 2010, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis was terminated. Grannis was a staunch public advocate, and his termination will slow down the implementation process as the DEC transitions to the next commissioner. Following this news, advocates met with DEC staff to share our detailed proposal for implementation. In Feburary 2011, we submitted comments on the DEC’s draft proposal for disclosure.
We will continue to keep this issue in the public eye to ensure that DEC enacts its authority to implement the law. Learn more from our partners at Earthjustice.
Which Cleansers Contain Toxic Ingredients?