2-Butoxyethanol: environmental performance agreement overview

Note: This agreement is no longer in effect.

This environmental performance agreement (the agreement) was in effect from January 24, 2007 to January 24, 2012. The 2-Butoxyethanol regulations (regulations) was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on December 27, 2006.

For a copy of the agreement, email: ec.epa-epe.ec@canada.ca


The objective of this agreement was to provide assurance that all paint and coatings companies would take specific actions to ensure that any commercial paint and coatings for indoor use containing 2-butoxyethanol with a concentration exceeding the limits set out in schedule 1 of the regulations would only be sold to industrial and commercial applicators and not to the general public.


The agreement was signed between Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Health Canada, the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association, and 13 paint and coatings companies listed below:

  • Behl Chemicals Inc.
  • Cloverdale Paint Inc.
  • Consolidated Coatings Corporation
  • General Paint Corporation
  • Korzite Coatings Inc.
  • Multicolor Specialties Inc.
  • Peinture Micca Inc.
  • PPG Canada Inc.
  • The Sansin Corporation
  • The Sherwin Williams Company
  • Tnemec Company Inc.
  • True Value Mfg.
  • Valspar Corp.

Key requirements

As part of this agreement, ECCC and the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association were to develop a verification program, to be conducted by a third party. The objective of this program was to ensure that commercial indoor paints and coatings containing 2-butoxyethanol at a level above the limits set out in schedule 1 of the 2-Butoxyethanol regulations are not sold to industrial and commercial applicators and not to the general public.The verification audit consisted of a number of site visits to stores or points of sale, by a verifier posing as a member of the general public, to determine whether the commercial paint and coating in question could be purchased.

For their part, commercial paint and coatings companies committed to take the necessary means to ensure that commercial paint and coatings were not available to the general public. They also committed to submitting annual reports to ECCC. Information requested in these reports included the identification of 2-butoxyethanol in paint, development of product inventories for products containing higher concentrations of 2-butoxyethanol than the limits set out in the regulations, and companies’ activities with stores offering these products.

Performance results

All companies completed and submitted a copy of the annual report with all the information specified in appendix 2 of the environmental performance agreement Respecting 2 Butoxyethanol to ECCC by February 28th for every year this agreement was in effect. This information was used to develop the verification program used in the audits.

While the environmental performance agreement Respecting 2 Butoxyethanol was in effect, several companies decided to leave the agreement: Behl Chemicals Inc., Consolidated Coatings Corporation, General Paint Corporation, The Sherwin Williams Company, True Value Mfg., Peinture Micca Inc., The Sansin Corporation, Cloverdale Paint Inc. and Korzite Coatings Inc. The main reason mentioned by these companies was that they were no longer selling commercial paint and coatings products for indoor use containing 2-butoxyethanol that exceeded the 2-Butoxyethanol regulations concentration limits, through reformulation or product substitution.

Verification results

Two third-party verification audits of the remaining companies participating in the agreement were held in 2010 and 2011. These audits were prepared to authenticate and ensure conformity of the companies with the environmental performance agreement respecting 2 Butoxyethanol.

For both audits, the auditor posing as a member of the general public tried to purchase an indoor commercial paint and coatings product containing a concentration of 2 butoxyethanol over the limits set out in schedule 1 of the 2-Butoxyethanol regulations.

The following approach was taken in rating the results for both audits: a pass result would require the retailer, who had the product available, to refuse to sell it if the client was not a contractor. However, if the product was unavailable for purchase or for ordering through the store, the result achieved the objective of non-availability to the public without addressing the contractor status. Therefore, these results were considered to be inconclusive. Given the ambiguities presented by these alternative interpretations, it was decided to redefine the pass rating as “not available except to contractors” and the fail rating to “actual sale or offer for sale of the product being audited”.

Next steps

In 2012, ECCC reviewed the findings from the annual reports and the audits, and decided not to renew the environmental performance agreement respecting 2 Butoxyethanol with the participating companies. The health of Canadians remains protected through the prohibition of paints and coatings sales to the general public under the 2 Butoxyethanol regulations that came into force in 2008.

Companies must continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that these commercial paints and coatings are not available to the general public. Sale to the general public could be the subject of measures of enforcement under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Background information

The 2-Butoxyethanol regulations prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and offer for sale of products containing 2-butoxyethanol over a certain limit with some exemptions, such as commercial paint and coating (i.e. not for public consumers). Since the section regarding the sale of products subject to these regulations only came into force two years after their publication, it was decided to develop the agreement in order to ensure that the specified commercial paints and coatings were not accessible to public consumers in the interim period. All known suppliers of commercial paints and coatings containing 2 butoxyethanol have signed the agreement.

This agreement was an example of how a negotiated agreement can be used to complement regulations, and to provide companies with a degree of flexibility in meeting health and environmental objectives. This agreement was implemented concurrently with the regulations and complemented the risk management objective of controlling 2-butoxyethanol exposure to the general public.

Contact us

Regulatory Innovation and Management Systems
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Blvd Saint-Joseph
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Email: ec.epa-epe.ec@canada.ca

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