The Conkle Firm Participates in PCPC California Lobby Day to Educate Lawmakers About Personal Care Products Industry Concerns

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Conkle, Kremer & Engel attorney John Conkle recently participated in the Personal Care Products Council’s California Lobby Day, an annual PCPC event held at the Capitol in Sacramento, California.  The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) represents the personal care and cosmetic industry at the federal, state and local level on issues of interest to the industry.
California Lobby Day represents a unique opportunity for industry leaders to meet with legislators, state officials, and their staff members and engage in open discussions about legislative and regulatory issues affecting the personal care industry.

The whirlwind day included briefings in the Governor’s Office by the executive department personnel and meetings with staff in the offices of members of the State Legislature, as well as a reception for members of the California Legislature, personnel from the Office of Governor Brown, and PCPC members and staff. Among those in attendance were Martha Guzman-Aceves (Deputy Legislative Secretary); Grant Cope (Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy, California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA)); Meredith Williams (Deputy Director of Safer Products and Workplaces Program, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)); Jacqueline Shea (United States Environmental Protection

In addition to meeting with PCPC personnel and other PCPC member representatives, the day provided a solid overview of California’s current regulatory scheme and upcoming legislation and regulations.Agency (US EPA)); and Rick Brausch (Legislative and Policy Director, DTSC).  In addition, a number of staff members from the offices of California Senators Loni Hancock and Kevin De Leon and California Assemblymembers Brian Nestande and Susan Bonilla spoke with PCPC members. The proposed pieces of legislation of most interest to the PCPC were the prohibition on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, legislation to allow county weights and measure officials to regulate the information that is required to be disclosed in the sale of cosmetics, the characterization of cosmetics as unsalable hazardous waste at the retailer level, and prohibitions on animal testing.

Conkle, Kremer & Engel is proud to be an active member of the Personal Care Products Council.  Over the years, CK&E has provided legal expertise to the PCPC and its member companies by presenting at conferences organized by the PCPC on legal and regulatory matters, as well as representing many PCPC member companies.  CK&E has also been a frequent sponsor of conferences organized by the PCPC and has participated in numerous events hosted by the PCPC.

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Nagoya Protocol: Response to Biopiracy Becomes Effective October 2014

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The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization became effective on July 14, 2014, with its 50th ratification.  The Nagoya Protocol will begin to have a direct impact on the personal care and cosmetics industry on October 12, 2014.

With the increased consumer demand for natural and organic products, a growing number of companies in the beauty industry are drawing on biodiversity for its rich variety of native ingredients and as a way to differentiate their products.  The use of exotic ingredients sourced from countries rich in biodiversity means that companies need to be aware of the Nagoya Protocol and the country-specific “Access and Benefit Sharing” laws and regulations that exist and are being enacted.  The use of indigenous ingredients in hair care, skincare and cosmetics formulations – such as baobab oil extracted from the fruits of the baobab trees found across Africa or katafray bark extract from the katafray trees of Madagascar – may be a violation of the Nagoya Protocol if Access and Benefit Sharing requirements are not met.

The Nagoya Protocol is an international treaty focused on Access and Benefit-Sharing, which was adopted in 2010 by the United Nations’ Nagoya, Japan Convention on Biological Diversity.  The Nagoya Protocol arose from the interest of national governments to conserve and promote sustainable use of their countries’ biodiversity and protect against commercial biopiracy.  The purpose of the Nagoya Protocol is to support fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

Generally, the Nagoya Protocol requires that access to a participating country’s genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge be subject to the “prior informed consent” of the party providing such resources.  The Nagoya Protocol also requires the sharing of the benefits arising from the commercialization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge with the owners of biodiversity, including the local communities and the indigenous people, on “mutually agreed terms.”

The Nagoya Protocol itself establishes only international norms and a framework for Access and Benefit Sharing measures, and does not impose Access and Benefit Sharing laws itself.  That is left to national legislation, and requires the contracting parties to implement their own Access and Benefit Sharing measures and to designate a competent national authority on ABS.  Many countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and India, already have national enabling laws and regulations.

Personal care product companies in particular also should be aware that their marketing and advertising of the products as containing native ingredients or drawing on traditional knowledge could subject them to a claim of biopiracy by national governments, local communities, and even non-governmental organizations.

Although the United States is not a contracting party to the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Nagoya Protocol, companies in the United States whose products utilize genetic resources or traditional knowledge from a member state, or are sold in a member state, must comply with the access and benefit sharing requirements.  It is imperative for companies to exercise due diligence to ensure that their raw material or ingredient suppliers have obtained prior informed consent for access to genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge used in their products, and mutually agreed terms for the sharing of benefits.

As a leader in providing legal services to the personal care products industry, CK&E can assist companies in instituting internal policies and procedures to help ensure compliance with the Nagoya Protocol.  CK&E will continue to monitor and provide updates about developments in the Nagoya Protocol.  The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol will be held in October 2014 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, concurrently with the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Full text of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.  The countries that have ratified or acceded to the Nagoya Protocol to date are:

  • Albania
  • Belarus
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • European Union
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Madagascar
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia (Federated States of)
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Rwanda
  • Samoa
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sudan
  • Switzerland
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Tajikistan
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Vietnam

 

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The Conkle Firm Attends IECSC and IBS Beauty Industry Shows in Las Vegas

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CK&E attorney Kim Sim recently attended the International Esthetics, Cosmetics and Spa Conference (IECSC) and International Beauty Show (IBS), two of the premier trade shows for manufacturers and distributors in the personal care products industry.  The trade shows were held June 12 through 14, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas.

IECSC Las Vegas is the country’s largest spa and wellness conference and expo, with more than 600 exhibitors, including manufacturers, distributors, spas and wellness centers, and thousands of professionals attending from the national and international spa and wellness market.  In addition, this year’s IBS Las Vegas, a beauty show focused primarily on salon-only and professional-grade products, featured more than 350 exhibitors.  Many of CK&E’s industry clients exhibited at both IECSC Las Vegas and IBS Las Vegas to widespread interest by show attendees.  Both IECSC Las Vegas and IBS Las Vegas offer a unique opportunity for CK&E to meet and interact with clients as well as other professionals in the beauty industry, and stay on the inside track about the industry’s latest developments and trends.  Kim was pleased to be able to catch up with BonBliss Beauty founders Elissa and Jay Choi.

CK&E’s next trade show attendance will be at Cosmoprof North America, one of the world’s top trade shows for the personal care products industry.

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris Promises to Scrutinize Prop 65 Settlements

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As reported on the Conklelaw blog, the California Attorney General’s Office recently released its long-awaited 2013 report of Proposition 65 settlements.  The report reveals that private Proposition 65 bounty hunters collected nearly $17 million in civil penalties, payments in lieu of penalties and attorneys’ fees and costs from businesses during 2013.

Concurrently with the report, the Attorney General’s Office took the unusual step of releasing a letter directed to the Proposition 65 plaintiffs’ bar – a small group of attorneys and law firms who specialize in representing private enforcers.

The letter from the Attorney General’s Office letter characterizes the 2013 report as shining “a light on some of the aspects of private enforcement of Proposition 65 that result in unnecessary burdens for businesses and are cause for public concern.”

The letter expresses particular concern over Proposition 65 plaintiffs’ practice of collecting “Payments in Lieu of Penalties” (also known as PILPs).  PILPs are supposed to offset civil penalties in Proposition 65 cases, and are intended to fund activities that have some nexus to the basis for the Prop 65 enforcement action.  Proposition 65 bounty hunters have broadly interpreted such PILP-funded activities to include funding additional Proposition 65 litigation.  Unlike civil penalties, of which California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is entitled to 75 percent, the state does not receive any portion of PILPs.  In 2013, 21% of the money collected in private settlements was paid as PILPs.

The Attorney General’s Office also criticized the enormous attorneys’ fees routinely collected by private enforcers as part of Proposition 65 settlements, and promised to “redouble” efforts to evaluate attorney’s fees awards.  In 2013, nearly 75 percent of all of the Proposition 65 settlement money, or an astonishing $12.5 million, went straight to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.  Attorney General Harris concluded, “Clearly, the high transaction costs for resolving Proposition 65 cases continue to be cause for concern.  They are the reasons we have been redoubling our efforts to evaluate attorney’s fees awards in the private party settlements submitted to us. . . .”

Attorney General Harris’ pledge to actively scrutinize Proposition 65 settlements is consistent with her “hands-on” approach to attempting to curb private enforcement efforts.  In 2011, for example, the Attorney General filed an opposition to a motion to approve settlement in Held v. Aldo, challenging an attorney’s fee request for more than $5 million by the Chanler Group – one of the most active Proposition 65 plaintiff’s firms – as unreasonable.  Let’s hope Attorney General Harris backs her pledge with more direct and effective oversight to curb abuses of Proposition 65 by private enforcers.

Conkle, Kremer & Engel attorneys are committed to guiding clients through the constantly changing landscape of Proposition 65 compliance and enforcement.

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California Attorney General Reports Businesses Paid $17 Million to Settle Private Prop 65 Cases in 2013

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And that’s the “good news” – in 2012 it was $20 million.

The California Attorney General’s Office recently released its annual report of Proposition 65 settlements.  The report confirms what most businesses are already painfully aware:  Proposition 65 continues to be a thriving business for private Proposition 65 plaintiffs and their lawyers, who make millions of dollars in the name of the “public interest.”

While private plaintiffs did not reap as much in 2013 as they did in 2012 ($20 million), they did manage to collect $17 million.  That represents the third largest haul for bounty hunters since 2000, when the Attorney General’s Office began collecting the data and publishing annual reports.net

The summary reveals that in 2013 alone, private Proposition 65 plaintiffs acting in the “public interest” and their lawyers entered into a whopping 350 private settlements or consent judgments with businesses alleged to be in violation of Proposition 65, and collected $16,812,396.  In contrast, the Attorney General and local District Attorney each filed a single action.

Proposition 65 requires the State of California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.  Businesses are required to warn consumers before exposing them to any one of more than 800 listed chemicals, by either labeling or posting a notice.  If a business does not comply, it can be liable for substantial civil penalties of up to $2,500 per day.

Proposition 65 has become a disturbingly lucrative operation for private enforcers, frequently called “bounty hunters,” who serve dozens if not hundreds of Notices of Violation on unsuspecting businesses.  These bounty hunters threaten to sue unless they are paid off in private settlements.  If a private settlement cannot be reached, they proceed with a lawsuit and try to force a settlement to avoid the cost of defense.

Proposition 65 allows private enforcers to keep 25 percent of all civil penalties collected, with the remaining 75 percent going to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).  In addition, private enforcers pocket 100% of so-called payments in lieu of penalties, or PILPs.  Whereas OEHHA would receive 75% of monies designated as civil penalties, OEHHA does not receive any portion of monies designated as PILPs.  Finally and most significantly, private enforcers’ lawyers are entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs under the State’s private attorney general doctrine.

The 2013 report shows that only one-tenth of all monies collected by private enforcers went to the State of California.  The rest of the money went to the bounty hunters and their lawyers:

  • $12,426,052, or 74%, went directly to the private enforcers’ lawyers as attorneys’ fees and costs
  • $596,977.25, or 3.6%, went directly to private-enforcer plaintiffs
  • $1,998,435, or 12%, went indirectly to private-enforcer plaintiffs as a payment in lieu of penalty
  • $1,790,931.75, or 11%, went to OEHHA.

The report also shows continued aggressive activity by a handful of Proposition 65 private enforcers.  At the top of the list are:

  • Center for Environmental Health (represented by Lexington Law Group) with 62 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $3.3 million
  • Russell Brimer (represented by Chanler Group) with 60 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $2.4 million
  • Peter Englander (represented by Chanler Group) with 46 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $1.6 million
  • John Moore (represented by Chanler Group) with 41 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $2 million
  • Environmental Research Center (represented by various law firms including Law Office of Karen A. Evans and Michael Freund & Associates) with 34 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $2.8 million
  • Consumer Advocacy Group (represented by Yeroushalmi & Associates) with 25 settlements or consent judgments totaling more than $1.3 million

The Prop 65 outlook for businesses in 2014 does not look much better.  In particular, the June 2013 listing of cocamide DEA, a common ingredient in beauty and personal care products, such as liquid soaps and shampoos, has spawned dozens of lawsuits and hundreds of businesses have been named as defendants.  Numerous settlements have already been approved by the Alameda Superior Court this year, leading to speculation that the total settlements in 2014 will likely exceed the total settlements in 2013.

Conkle, Kremer & Engel routinely represents businesses against Proposition 65 claims and lawsuits brought by private enforcers, as well as counsels businesses on compliance with Proposition 65 in order to avoid becoming a future target of private enforcers.

 

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New York Assembly Passes First Ban on Microbeads; California and Other States Expected to Follow

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Legislators in several states, including California, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio, have recently introduced legislation to ban the use of “microplastics” in personal care products.  Such “microplastics” are tiny plastic microbeads, defined in the legislation as 5 millimeters or less in all dimensions.  They are typically found in personal care products such as hand and body soap, exfoliates, shampoos, toothpastes and face and body scrubs. They are included in products to improve performance, but have been the subject of intense scrutiny because of concern about their environmental impact, including contribution to water pollution. The microbeads are small enough to wash down the drain, but are not being caught by sewage treatment facilities.

On May 5, 2014, the New York State Assembly unanimously passed New York Assembly Bill A08744, the “Microbead-Free Waters Act,” which would prohibit the sale of personal cosmetic products that contain the tiny plastic particles. The bill is now before the New York State Senate; if passed into law, it would take effect January 1, 2016.

California Assembly Bill 1699, introduced February 13, 2014, would similarly prohibit the sale or offer for promotional purposes of any personal care products containing microplastics on or after January 1, 2018.   The so-called “Microplastic Nuisance Prevention Law” would impose civil penalties on violators of up to $2,500 per day for each violation in actions brought by the Attorney General or local officials, as well as permit injunctions to be imposed on violators.  The bill provides an exemption for products that contain less than 1 part per million (ppm) by weight of microplastic.  Like Proposition 65, businesses employing fewer than 10 employees are exempt from compliance.

Conkle, Kremer & Engel monitors the latest developments on legal and regulatory issues affecting the personal care products industry to provide expert guidance to its industry clients.

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The Conkle Firm is Featured in April 2014 Beauty Industry Report

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Conkle, Kremer & Engel is proud to again be the subject of a feature interview in the industry-leading publication, Beauty Industry Report (BIR).  BIR is a monthly 24-page executive newsletter for professionals that focuses on the emerging trends affecting the beauty industry.  CK&E’s feature interview assessed the latest legal trends, based on CK&E’s decades of experience in the industry.  Topics covered included trademark and brand protection, both international and domestic, regulatory compliance issues such as California’s Proposition 65 and the Safe Cosmetics Act, issues in manufacturer-distributor relationships, and more.

The attached article includes links to topical blog posts and websites referenced in the interview.  CK&E wishes to thank BIR’s Mike Nave for taking the initiative to disseminate information about these important industry issues.  BIR proved again that working in the beauty industry without reading BIR is like working in finance without reading The Wall Street Journal.

BIR Feature Interview of CK&E

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The Conkle Firm Participates in California Pavilion at Cosmoprof Bologna

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CK&E attorney Amy Burke attended Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna, Italy, the international professional beauty industry trade show, in April 2014.  Cosmoprof Bologna is a preeminent global conference for the personal care products industry, with over 207,000 visitors and 2,450 exhibitors from 69 countries, and participation by manufacturers, distributors and industry organizations.  Highlights included the dynamic USA Pavilion and California Pavilion, orchestrated by the California Trade Alliance.  Amy joined Beauty Industry Market Access (BIMA) directors Patty Schmucker and Cesar Arellanes, and several graduates of the BIMA program, as they put into practice the concepts taught at the intense educational program designed for entrepreneurs entering international markets.  To learn more about the BIMA program in which CK&E attorneys participated, click here.

As developed in discussions at Cosmoprof, a critical issue for many U.S. exhibitors entering the EU market is the July 2013 Cosmetics Regulation (EU Reg. 1223/2009) that overhauled the European Union’s regulatory landscape for personal care products.  The Regulations introduced a number of new requirements, including labeling for nanomaterials such as titanium dioxide, claim verification standards and an EU-wide ban on animal testing.  As a brief introduction to the new requirements, the EU distilled the July 2013 Cosmetics Regulation into the simplified infographic shown here.

Under the new Regulation, each manufacturer selling cosmetic products into the EU must designate a person or business entity physically located in the EU that will serve as the manufacturer’s designated “responsible person” for compliance with the Regulation.   CK&E has strong working relationships and regularly works with such “responsible persons” who can be engaged to assist businesses seeking to expand into the EU.  CK&E is pleased to participate in industry events such as Cosmoprof Bologna and programs such as BIMA, to help U.S. entrepreneurs expand into the EU and to assist foreign manufacturers develop and secure markets for their products in California and throughout the United States.

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The Conkle Firm Teaches International Entrepreneurs in BIMA Program

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Conkle, Kremer & Engel attorneys Mark Kremer and Amy Burke have been honored to participate in and contribute to the revolutionary Beauty Industry Market Access (BIMA) program through the Center for International Trade Development (CITD).  The BIMA program was developed and is led by beauty industry guru Patty Schmucker and international trade expert Cesar Arellanes, the Director of CITD in Long Beach.   BIMA is a five week intensive international trade and business education program taught by leading health and beauty industry experts. BIMA participants focus on key program principles distinct to conducting business overseas, receive bi-monthly objectives for assessing their business, and ultimately produce an export growth plan exclusive to their business. Participants also have access to upcoming trade missions to the world’s largest emerging market beauty trade shows – effective venues for executing learned principles and business plans.

Amy and Mark contribute to the BIMA educational program by teaching modules on domestic and foreign intellectual property protection, domestic regulatory compliance, and international distribution agreements.   Participants are particularly interested in cost-effective methods of protecting their intellectual property internationally, such as international trademark registrations through the Madrid System.  The Madrid System offers a centralized application process for trademark registration in over 90 countries based on a brand owner’s domestic application or registration.  Participants are also interested in CK&E’s practical approach to domestic regulatory compliance, including California’s evolving green chemistry initiative, Safe Cosmetics Act and Proposition 65.  Participants have also benefited from CK&E’s tips for forging fruitful business relationships with distributors, based on decades of experience representing clients in the personal care products industry.

Amy will accompany Patty Schmucker and several graduates of the BIMA educational program to Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna in April 2014.  Amy and Mark look forward to the next BIMA session, which begins on June 26, 2014.  Click for further information about joining the BIMA program: BIMA_Summer-Fall_2014

 

 

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DTSC Announces Proposed Priority Products Subject to California Green Chemistry Initiative

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The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has identified the first three groups of products that may become “Priority Products” subject to reporting and alternatives assessments requirements under California’s strict new Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Regulations.

The three groups of products on this initial list of proposed “Priority Products” are:

  • Children’s foam padded sleeping products containing the flame retardant Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP or Tris)
  • Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) systems containing unreacted diisocyanates
  • Paint and varnish strippers and surface cleaners containing methylene chloride

Rulemaking on the proposed “Priority Products” list is expected to begin in late June 2014, with the final “Priority Products” list to be finalized by the following year by adoption of regulations.

If the product-chemical combinations announced by DTSC end up on the list of final “Priority Products,” manufacturers and other responsible entities (including importers, assemblers and even retailers) of these products will be required to notify DTSC and either remove the product from sale, reformulate to remove or replace the chemical of concern in the product, or perform a complex “Alternatives Analysis” to retain the chemical in the product.

As widely expected, the initial “Priority Products” list targets children’s foam padded sleeping products containing the flame retardant Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP or Tris), such as nap mats and pads in soft-sided portable cribs, infant travel beds, portable infant sleepers, playards, play pens, bassinets and nap cots.

In addition, the initial “Priority Products” list targets all paint and varnish removers, paint and varnish strippers and surface cleaners that contain methylene chloride.  Spray polyurethane foam systems containing diisocyanates, both professional and consumer grade, are also proposed to be subject to regulation.  Such products are used for insulation, roofing, sealing and filling of voids and gaps.

TDCPP, methylene chloride, and toluene diisocynate are known carcinogens and exposures to the chemical to Californians above the no significant risk level require a warning under Proposition 65.  TDCPP was recently listed in October 2011 as a chemical regulated by Proposition 65.

The announcement of these three product groups as proposed “Priority Products” does not trigger any duty on product manufacturers until the DTSC finalizes the list of priority products by adopting regulations.  However, manufacturers of children’s foam padded sleeping products containing TDCPP, spray polyurethane foam systems containing diisocyanates, and paint and varnish strippers and surface cleaners containing methylene chloride are well advised to be proactive and take steps to determine whether the chemical can be removed from their products or replaced with a safer alternative chemical.

Conkle, Kremer & Engel regularly assists businesses to develop plans to ensure compliance with California’s ever-changing regulations, including the Safer Consumer Products Regulations and Green Chemistry Initiative.

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