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'Last' reg-neg meeting fails to produce final finishing agreement.

The last scheduled meeting of the Wood Furniture Regulatory Negotiating (Reg-Neg) committee, held Oct. 21 and 22 in Durham, N.C., turned out to be not so final after all. The committee could not reach a consensus on ways to reduce finishing emissions and a final "final" meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in the Raleigh/Durham, N.C., area.

The Reg-Neg group was to have presented the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with recommendations on how to reduce volatile organic compound emissions by Nov. 15. The EPA was then to take the recommendations under advisement when drafting federal emission standards as mandated by the 1988 Clean Air Act amendments. The CTGs would then be used by individual states to draft their own VOC emission limits.

The committee, made up of wood-working, government and environmental groups, has worked since late 1992 to formulate the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and Control Technique Guidelines (CTGs) for emissions of volatile organic compounds. The goal of the Reg-Neg committee is to formulate plans that will reduce wood finishing emissions while not being overly burdensome on manufacturers, said John Lingelbach of CDR Associates, facilitator of the meetings.

Development of the CTGs is the main sticking point in the negotiations. "We are trying to figure out an approach on the framework for CTGs," Lingelbach said. "We have explored complaint-coating type of approaches and various averaging approaches."

For example, the group is exploring whether waterborne topcoats in the CTGs would satisfactorily reduce emissions of VOCs as mandated by the Clean Air Act.

The "averaging approach" would take an average of VOC emissions over different coating steps, as opposed to an average of emissions over a period of time. If a piece of furniture requires three coats of finish, emissions from the coats would be averaged. This would give finishers flexibility over the operation because one step may emit "a bit more" VOCs and the next "a bit less" and it would average out to an acceptable level, Lingelbach said.

In the past, each of the coatings would have had a separate emissions standard. The committee is looking at both of these ideas but has not reached a consensus.

While these and other questions have not been answered, Lingelbach said he is confident an agreement will be reached.


Sue Perry a consultant with the law firm of Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cumiskey, and who is representing the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. in the proceedings, said that when a final agreement is reached, industry will need to make changes. But it will not be as drastic as it might have been without the Reg-Neg Process that allowed industry a say in the rule-making process. "The worst case scenario would be to force every company to put an incinerator in their plant (to burn up the VOCs) which would put most companies out of business. We have come quite along away from that scenario."


Under a proposed amendment to Rule 1136, wood finishers in Southern California will get a higher ceiling for finishing emissions.

The Southern California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will consider a plan to raise the finishing emissions limits on clear topcoats, sealers and low solid stain toners as covered under Rule 1136. This increase is dependent upon the finishing material not containing ozone-depleting compounds, specifically 111 trichlorethane, said Monty Price, air quality engineer with the SCAQMD.

The proposed amendment is scheduled to go before the SCAQMD governing board in mid-December.

Under the proposal, until July 1, 1994, finishers will be able to use clear topcoats with 680 grams of VOC per liter, versus the current limit of 550 grams per liter.

Sealer limits will increase to 680 grams of VOC per liter through July 1, 1996, thereby eliminating the current 1994 limit of 550 grams per liter. Low solid stains, toners and washcoats would also rise from 480 grams of VOC per liter to 800 grams per liter through July 1, 1996, Price said.

Exempt until January 1, 1996, from the proposed amendment are furniture refinishing and classic guitar finishing. These two areas are relatively small industries and therefore do not contribute much to California's ozone problem, said Price, adding that the technology is not yet available for matching the quality of finish required for these two areas.

Gary Stafford of the California Furniture Manufacturers Assn., said the proposed amendment is in direct response to a request by furniture manufacturers for ways to eliminate 111 trichlorethane from use, while still remaining in compliance. "This is just a short term solution to get rid of products using 111 trichlorethane," said Stafford. "Trichlorethane is more damaging than VOCs."

Price said companies which continue to use materials with ozone-depleting compounds will have to follow the lower limits. "We are trying to phase out these compounds from use. This will also give companies time to find other alternatives (to meet the 1996 limits)," he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that California-based companies released more than 21 million pounds of 111 trichlorethane in 1991, more than double that of Indiana, the next highest emitter. The report does not separate furniture from other types of facilities.
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Title Annotation:Wood Furniturre Regulatory negotiating committe
Author:Adams, Larry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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