In about 3 years and 4 months, on March 22, 2024, producers of laminated products made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins will become subject to all the requirements applicable to hardwood product producers under EPA’s rule on formaldehyde in composite wood products, 40 C.F.R. Part 770 (the Rule). KCMA members should consider taking action now to prepare for this compliance deadline. Here are four strategies to consider.

  1. Plan to purchase from panel producers all products needing to be laminated with UF resins.  Panel producers are already subject to full requirements under the rule. If cabinet manufacturers do not laminate (because they purchase panels that are already laminated), they would incur no additional obligations under the rule. Under this option, cabinet manufacturers who currently laminate with UF resins would instead outsource all laminating to panel producers. This option would require the least amount of additional regulatory compliance by cabinet manufacturers, but it would alter business practices. Please let KCMA know if your company is currently using this option or plans to do so prior to the March 22, 2024 compliance date.
  2. Prepare to comply with all requirements for hardwood plywood producers. These include obtaining product certification by an EPA-approved TSCA Title VI third-party certifier (TPC); being inspected by its TPC quarterly; meeting the testing requirements; having a quality control manual and meeting certain requirements for facilities and personnel; taking certain steps after being notified of non-complying lots; complying with the reporting and recordkeeping requirements applicable to panel producers; and meeting the labeling requirements for panels. This option would require the greatest amount of additional regulatory compliance by cabinet manufacturers. It could also alter manufacturing practices.
  3. Prepare to laminate only using phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resins, no-added formaldehyde (NAF) resins or ultra low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins instead of UF resins. The Rule exempts laminated products made with PF, NAF, or ULEF resins if they meet certain requirements. In addition, cabinet manufacturing with PF, NAF, or ULEF resins would have to keep records demonstrating their compliance with the requirements for the exemption. This option would involve less additional regulatory compliance by cabinet manufacturers than option 2, but more than option 1. It may affect manufacturing processes, as PF, NAF, or ULEF resins may require longer production times and provide lower performance than UF resins in some applications.
  4. Obtain EPA approval of alternative resins. EPA will consider petitions for rulemaking to approve exemptions for alternative resins (except with respect to the recordkeeping provisions). It is not clear that alternative resins are available at this time. Once available, the petition and then rulemaking processes would take a considerable time. KCMA members should move quickly on this option if it appears to be viable.

For more information, contact Betsy Natz at KCMA, bnatz@kcma.org or (703) 264-1690.