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The 'state toxic' challenge: the trickiest part of retail waste

Everyone knows the primary responsibility of a retailer is to master state-specific computational toxicology. 

Sure, managing inventory and marketing efforts are essential, but engaging with complex math equations based on canonical animal testing studies should be the centerpiece of every retail operation. That’s just what retailers do, right? 

Okay, we mean this to be amusing—but we’re only half-joking. 

In reality, retailers do need to understand both federal and state toxicity regulations to sell and manage consumer products compliantly. If they don’t, they’re subject to hefty fines and brand risk. 

Adhering to those regulations requires making sense of thorny chemical databases and decoding equations that may appear conceived in a foreign language. Don’t believe us? Check this out:  


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That head-spinning formula is the state of Washington’s Equivalent Concentration equation, and it applies to all products a retailer sells. Put simply, it determines whether or not chemicals are deemed toxic and require specific (and expensive) waste handling procedures. While Washington state is admirably trying to protect its environment and wildlife, the complicated nature of the Equivalent Concentration often leaves retailers scratching their heads. 

It’s no secret that the regulated product environment is challenging. As such, if you’re a compliance officer at a large retailer reading this, your program likely falls into one of the following two scenarios: 

1) You rely on charts and annual training sessions for your back-of-store employees (across all states) to make accurate regulated product decisions. Only one problem: you have to implement sweeping, one-size-fits-all guidelines for stores throughout your organization when one size most definitely doesn’t fit all (i.e., California and Washington state regulations). Ultimately, this shotgun approach needlessly increases your company’s generator status and expenses.

2) You use a third party or internal resources to classify your products, and these classifications feed into a scan-to-bucket program in the backs of your stores. The challenge in this scenario is both disheartening and costly: you are likely over classifying many of your products into the previously discussed “state toxic” bucket. For example, we recently ran an audit that showed only 42 percent of the products that a retailer designated as “state toxic” were, in fact, state toxic. 

At Smarter Sorting, we keep things easy and accurate for retailers managing regulated products. We do computational chemistry for retailers and brands so they can focus on their core competency: selling products. 

Recently, we implemented a first-of-its-kind solution for Washington state regulated product supply chains that ensures compliance while improving sustainability and lowering operational costs. And now, we want to share how it works. 

To illustrate how we make the most accurate state toxic designations available, our Washington State Toxic white paper lays out — in painstaking detail — the aforementioned Washington state Equivalent Concentration calculation applied to a specific regulated product. If you are ready to transform the way you manage regulated products, we encourage you to download our free white paper and contact us today.

Download the White Paper