Interview: A conversation with Christopher Cathcart

A conversation with Christopher Cathcart, President and CEO, Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), Washington, DC (USA)

Christopher CathcartAEROSOL EUROPE: Mr. Cathcart, can you sketch for our readers in rough terms in which areas the CSPA has been able to achieve significant things for our industry?

Christopher Cathcart: We are engaged in building strong relationships with retailers to ensure that there is a viable future for our products and for the aerosol packaging form so we can continue to reach customers.

AEROSOL EUROPE: The CSPA can look back across 100 years of association work. Of which achievements are you especially proud?

Christopher Cathcart: This association is well-grounded in its history, a very proud history, but it always has its eye on the future. Our ability to evolve has been shown throughout the 100 years.

AEROSOL EUROPE: In a globalized world, the cooperation of national associations is enormously important. Can you give our readers a rough “update” on the cooperation with the European association FEA?

Christopher Cathcart: FEA is a very strong partner and our relationship with them keeps getting stronger thanks to personal relationships with their senior association staff and the member associations. In particular, we share information about implementation of GHS, the evolution of the aerosol packaging form, and about the issues that emerge in the worldwide marketplaces.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Surely there is also a cooperation with the Asian association. What are the focal points there?

Christopher Cathcart: Asia is a very large marketplace as well as an enormous manufacturer of goods and services. It is good to bring them into the “family,” in particular in relation to the aerosol packaging form and how we are moving forward in the various markets, the issues they face in Asia, what we face in Europe and in North America. To have them at the table is essential.

AEROSOL EUROPE: With which goals will you enter the next “century”?

Christopher Cathcart: CSPA is a customer-facing organization. We are working on building consumer confidence in our products, and working with the various regulatory agencies on chemical management laws that impact our ability to get product to the marketplace. We recognize the importance of ingredient disclosure and transparency, as well as maintaining and being able to protect the efficacy of our products, particularly as they relate to aerosols.

AEROSOL EUROPE: The CSPA consists of 7 divisions. In which areas do you see the greatest challenges?

Christopher Cathcart: For the aerosol packaging form, we are constantly working on the VOC issues in California and across the United States as well as protecting the efficacy of other products. Consumers want to have confidence in household and institutional products and they want us to be transparent in what we do. The greater transparency comes through disclosure and we have developed a voluntary Ingredient Disclosure Initiative that is supported by the CSPA Consumer Products Ingredient Dictionary.
Through the Consumer Aerosol Products Council (CAPCO), we also promote the importance of aerosol recycling to customers around the country.

AEROSOL EUROPE: We have learned that the Product Ingredient Review Program (PIR) has given itself a new name. What were the important reasons for this decision?

Christopher Cathcart: The Research and Regulatory Management Council has a new name that better reflects the work it is doing now. This organization started 30 years ago collecting technical data for submission to regulatory agencies. Today, within its 50 programs, it provides unparalleled expertise in rapidly uniting diverse industry representatives into well-organized, highly effective coalitions and working groups. Members and non-members of CSPA participate because the Research and Regulatory Management Council ensures immediate, cost-effective access to technical knowledge, legal counsel, administrative and budget support. The groups address many issues including developing new standards for aerosol packaging. The change of name reflects what we are doing now and what we will be doing in the future.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Are there innovations with the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE)?

Christopher Cathcart: Yes, the Alliance for Consumer Education has put together a social media site called PAIN (People Against Inhalants Network) and that allows families and loved ones who have harmed themselves with inhalants to share information with each other. I do not know of any other industry group has done this, but ACE has built it and people are using it.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Keyword CARB: What is new here?

Christopher Cathcart: California Air Resources Board looks to CSPA and its members as valuable partners in providing information about what industry can do to help meet California’s clean air goals. This year, CARB is completing a major resurvey of consumer products and developing new plans for regulating VOCs. At the same time, the US Environmental Protection Agency may be lowering the ozone standard, which will create the need for more emission reductions in the future, especially in California.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What goals do you absolutely want to achieve in the medium term?

Christopher Cathcart: We are committed to building confi dence in household and institutional products and that means we must continue on the path of building relationships with retailers. That is very important to our membership. We also have a place at the table negotiating on reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2015.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr. Cathcart, we thank you for this conversation.

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