World RV Conference Speakers Announced

August 17, 2012 by · Comments Off on World RV Conference Speakers Announced 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has finalized the roster of speakers for the “RVing and Caravanning Around the World” Plenary Sessions at the 2nd World RV Conference, taking place Jan. 17 – 20, 2013, at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina in Tampa, Fla.

These special sessions will give attendees the opportunity to learn more about established and emerging RV markets across the globe as RV industry leaders from various geographic regions share information about their marketplace and prospects moving forward, according to a news release.

These presentations, which are 45 minutes each, will take place the mornings of Friday, Jan. 18, and Saturday, Jan. 19.

Friday, Jan. 18

  • 9:30 a.m. Europe; Stéphane Cordeille, CEO, Thetford Corp.
  • 10:45 a.m. Japan; Keiki Inomata, Japan RV Association (JRVA).
  • 11:45 a.m. Australia; Stuart Lamont, CEO, Caravan, RV & Accommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA).

Saturday, Jan. 19

  • 9:30 a.m. China; Wu Wexue, vice president, China Tourism Association (CTA).
  • 10:45 a.m. Japan; Keith Laing, managing director, Jurgens-Ci.
  • 11:45 a.m. North America; Richard Coon, president, RVIA.

Registration for the 2nd World RV Conference, hosted by RVIA, is available by clicking here. Registration has been heavy and will close when capacity is reached. For more information about the event contact RVIA’s Jay Landers at

Stephane Cordeille, CEO, Thetford Corp.

Stuart Lamont, CEO of CRVA, Australia

Richard Coon, RVIA president

CalARVC Lauds Holding Tank Discussion

August 26, 2010 by · Comments Off on CalARVC Lauds Holding Tank Discussion 

Editor’s Note: Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), issued this press release following the Aug. 18 veto by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of AB 1824, a bill designed to limit the types of chemicals for RV holding tanks in that state. CalARVC supported the bill and some of its members lobbied for its signing by the governor.

It is with great disappointment that we report Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto of AB 1824 last week. With only three nay votes in the entire legislature, we had hoped that the governor would see the truly bi-partisan support of the bill. While being a pro-environmental issue, this was also a pro-small business issue. We thought the combination of these two items, along with our members’ letter writing campaign, would convince the governor to sign the bill. However, the governor, backing his Green Chemistry Initiative Program, chose to veto the bill.

What is the Green Chemistry Initiative? Perhaps you will remember the legislation from several years ago banning certain chemicals in plastics, specifically the type of plastic in baby bottles. The scientists put forth evidence on both sides contradicting each other’s findings. During that same year, 11 other chemical related bills tried to make their way through the legislature. Eventually, the legislators and the governor threw their hands in the air, knowing that none of them had the collective education to understand the science behind each piece of legislation. As a result, the Governor created the Green Chemistry Initiative, a process by which chemical issues will now be thoroughly researched by the California Department of Toxic and Substance Control (CTSC). Their findings will create regulations in which to address each individual issue.

CalARVC submitted our holding tank issue to the Green Chemistry Initiative in November of 2007. However, because of our close work with CTSC, they told us up front that it will be years before our issue gets to the “top of the pile.” Knowing that CTSC would be tackling issues that affect the greatest populations first, we grappled with the decision to move forward with AB 1824. But with the support of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board, we decided it was worth the risk.

So, what’s next politically? Our Government Affairs Committee will be reviewing our next strategic steps in September. RVIA, FMCA and the major chemical companies have offered to meet and find mutually beneficial solutions. While chemical based treatment products are a major problem for septic and small municipal treatment facilities, it is not the only challenge facing campground operators in regards to wastewater output. Perhaps the combined efforts of everyone in the industry can find ways to work together. And even though the campground industry is a relatively small piece of this great industry, without successful campgrounds, all other parts of the industry will suffer.

We will chock this battle up to a loss, but are pleased about the amount of conversation we created around the country within and outside our industry. More, now than ever, awareness of the problems surrounding chemically based holding tank products is at its greatest point.

Thetford, the largest manufacturer of chemical based products, launched their Eco-Smart line in January of 2009. Dometic Corp. has permanently removed formaldehyde from the contents of its products. Just last month ELS, the largest owner of RV & manufactured housing communities, announced a brand new product—free of formaldehyde and other chemicals. Then there have been the longtime believers in bacterial or enzyme based products all along: Eco-Save, Heartland Labs, just to name a few. The tide is coming in and it is our sincere hope that these companies will choose to support fellow members of their industry rather than continue to sell problematic, environmental-unfriendly and hazardous products here in California and around the country. We ask campgrounds and aftermarket stores to only stock environmentally safe and septic tank friendly bacteria or enzyme based RV holding tank products.

We’ll take a lesson from Canada’s “Camp Green, Canada” campaign and create our own “Camp Green, California.” We will create a central point for consumers and campground operators to access resources. We’ll provide links to the best research we can find, the EPA alert and the Univ. of Arizona publications. We’ll provide a complete list of all products available and their contents.

So, yes, we lost this battle. But with the help of our members, consumers and the collective RV industry, we hope to win the war!

CalARVC Regroups After Holding Tank Bill Veto

August 25, 2010 by · Comments Off on CalARVC Regroups After Holding Tank Bill Veto 

Much to the surprise of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bill AB 1824, which would have banned the use of certain holding tank deodorants utilized in waste facilities and toilets on boats and RVs.

The law’s intent was to protect campground owners and millions of campers from potential hazardous effects from products containing bronopol, dowicil, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformadelhyde and paradichlorobenzene.

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC director, told that due to the large amount of chemicals bills presented to California legislature in recent years, the governor created the Green Chemistry Initiative. The initiative is a way to better address these bills through scientific research done by the Department of Toxics and Substance Control (DTSC).

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

The DTSC previously told CalARVC it would be taking on more broadly affected chemicals first before they addressed AB 1824, since it concerned a smaller niche market.

Sipe said CalARVC knew this was a risk when it submitted the bill for consideration, but still felt hopeful after it passed through all other levels of legislation with huge bipartisan support and only three nay votes.

“The governor vetoed it because he wants all of this to go through the Green Chemistry Initiative,” Sipe said. “We had lobbied the governor’s office and had letters to his office and we were hoping we could get through because we are a smaller niche.”

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., a manufacturer of holding tank chemicals for both the marine and RV markets, Dometic Corp., Elkhart, Ind., a Thetford competitor, and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) opposed the bill – essentially urging the state of California to back up their reasons with science that proves these chemicals are fouling up septic systems.

In response to the veto, Kevin Phillips, Thetford’s vice president of sales and marketing, stated, “RVIA and other concerned industry organizations that rallied together and helped to provide education and understanding regarding this bill. Without them, this veto, which preserves consumer choice in RV deodorants, may not have been achieved.”

CalARVC will hold a meeting to discuss its next steps and will be asking manufacturing companies to do their best to push and promote organic-based products.

“We failed in our efforts, but we hope the manufacturers will back the campground industry and help support us,” Sipe said.

CalARVC also plans to submit a list of green-based products as the recommended guide for consumers and will be adding an educational section to its website to educate people about environmentally-friendly products.


The office of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued this message following the governor’s veto on Aug. 18 of AB 1824:

This bill prohibits the sale and use of a specified list of chemicals in chemical toilets and waste facilities of recreational vehicles.

Current law already gives the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) the ability to address the issue of chemical toilet products in recreational vehicles. Additionally, DTSC has the ability to address this issue through the Green Chemistry process.

This bill presents a scenario that is ripe for a Green Chemistry approach: competing science on each side of the issue; concern about the effectiveness of alternative products for the consumer’s intended use; consumer reaction in the wake of an ineffective alternative; and questions as to whether banning particular chemicals will actually address the underlying problem.

Neither I, nor members of the legislature, are best equipped to answer these questions. We need science and scientists to undertake this challenge and develop a solution that addresses the chemical problem and provides the consumer with a product that is both economical and effective for its intended purpose.

Under the leadership of my Secretary for Environmental Protection, the Green Chemistry process is well underway at DTSC. We will have regulations adopted by Jan. 1, 2011, and DTSC should address the issue raised in this bill either under that process or under their existing authority.

RVIA & Dometic Oppose California Legislation

July 2, 2010 by · Comments Off on RVIA & Dometic Oppose California Legislation 

More opposition has emerged to AB 1824, a controversial California bill that would ban the use of holding tank products containing six specific chemicals – bronopol, dowicil, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde and paradichlorobenzene.

To date, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., a manufacturer of holding tank chemicals for both the marine and RV markets, had been the only vocal opponent to the proposed legislation.

Now, Dometic Corp., Elkhart, Ind., a Thetford competitor, would specifically like the inclusion of bronopol pulled from the bill, and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has stepped up to oppose the bill in its entirety.

RVIA’s position is apparently similar to that of Thetford’s in that both are asking the state of California for better science – more proof – that these chemicals are fouling up septic systems in the state. Thetford contends that use patterns – the fact that many people often dump holding tanks in a short period of time – is a more serious root cause of septic system problems.

“We do not feel that we have been shown any science that shows that the six chemicals that are being banned are going to address the problem,” said Diane Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs. “It seems like a remedy and yet we have not seen the right data pointing us to the problem at hand. California is a leader in the green movement, and one of the premises of that is to get chemicals into the hands of the scientists and this seems to be avoiding that process.”

The bill is moving swiftly, having passed out of both the Senate Toxics and Environmental Quality and Appropriations committees in the last two weeks. Next it goes to the full Senate and then, if it passes, to the California governor’s desk for a signature. Estimates are that that could happen by August or September at the latest.

Meanwhile, one of the most ardent proponents of the bill, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), is unswayed by RVIA’s opposition and Dometic’s request to pull bronopol from the bill.

“Dometic has put a letter in opposition suggesting that bronopol be pulled from the bill and that is when we had to dig deeper into the science,” explained Debbie Sipe, executive director for CalARVC.

According to Sipe, the California Department of Toxics and Substance Control has looked into this question, but is coming up with inconclusive results. So, CalARVC will continue to support the bill as it stands.

“Fundamentally all chemicals, even green chemicals, have a risk associated with them,” explained Ed McKiernan, Dometic director of development for product sanitation at Dometic’s plant in Big Prairie, Ohio. “When you ban chemicals and just say ‘this is banned,’ you don’t know what all the consequences could be. In the case of this law, one of my biggest fears is that it is going to cause more difficulty and more harm to campground septic systems than if the law didn’t happen.”

In fact, McKiernan claims banning these chemicals, which come from a list assembled 10 years ago by Dr. Katherine Farrell-Poe, PhD, of the University of Arizona, will have virtually no positive effect on the environment.

“The level of bronopol that is used in a 40-gallon tank will virtually have no impact on a septic system based on studies that have been done at sewage treatment plants,” McKiernan explained. “At the time the list was put together it was thought that bronopol was another name for formaldehyde, and it’s not. There has been a lot of research done and it is clearly a different product. Bronopol is a good chemical because it is cost-effective, does a good job of odor control at high temperatures and has very minimal environmental impact.”

McKiernan said RV owners can – and often do – use alternative products that contain ammonium compounds, calcium nitrates or enzymes/bacteriological kinds of additives.

“The difficulty with those three alternatives is there are issues with biodegradability and odor control,” he said. “Nitrates are not removed when they go to the septic tank. They go into the leach field. You are going to be adding more nitrates and causing a bigger problem for the environment.”

Some of the greener products generally don’t work at high temperatures, according to McKiernan, and in the state of California where high temperatures are the norm, he maintained, fighting bad odors could become a way of life for the RV enthusiast.

When you take away products containing bronopol, McKiernan maintained, RV owners will likely start using homemade concoctions containing things like Drano or bleach, which kill all the bacteria in a septic system. “This will have a very negative environmental effect,” he said.

“We want to do the right thing environmentally, but we want to do the right thing by giving the RV owner products that work in high temperatures,” McKiernan added.

McKiernan would like to see California do an in-depth study on bronopol to gain a clearer understanding before passing the bill as it stands.

California Bill Revives Old Formaldehyde Debate

May 24, 2010 by · Comments Off on California Bill Revives Old Formaldehyde Debate 

The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) has taken an aggressive stance in support of state legislation banning the sale of RV and marine holding tank products containing six chemicals – most notably formaldehyde — on the premise that these substances threaten ground water quality.

That bill (AB 1824) unanimously (73-0) passed out of the full Assembly in mid-May and went to the Senate Toxics and Environmental Quality Committee for a hearing sometime in June.

“This means it is one more hurdle in the process,” remarked CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe, who has been outspoken in advocating the proposed holding tank chemical ban and feels the bill has a good chance of moving through the Senate Appropriations Committee, then the full Senate and, finally, across the California Governor’s desk by August or September.

“We’ve got some strategies to get more support for the bill, but we are not disclosing all of that right now,” Sipe told Woodall’s Campground Management.

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

“Toxic chemicals, like those used in many common RV toilet additives, kill the natural bio-organisms and cause the septic systems to fail, causing sewage to seep into surrounding soil and groundwater,” CalTIA legislative advocate Teresa Cooke wrote in a letter to Felipe Fuentes, chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “AB 1824 will help keep the state’s groundwater clean, and benefit hundreds of small businesses throughout the state, potentially saving them tens of thousands of dollars that would otherwise be spent on repairing or replacing their parks’ septic systems.”

Nineteen chemicals already are banned in state regulations. “AB 1824 will simply clarify that six additional chemicals cannot be used in RV toilet additives for the same reasons as the 19 currently banned,” Cooke said.

Taking a vocal position against the bill is Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., which markets a complete range of RV and marine sanitation products from toilets to waste evacuation systems to holding tank additives, including some affected by the potential ban and some not targeted by California legislation – including an array of third-party-certified, formaldehyde-free Eco-Smart holding tank deodorants and additives.

Thetford’s contention is that California’s proposed law is a bit overzealous with regard to formaldehyde-type products and doesn’t take into account some of the general habits of the camping public and the functionality of many septic systems. And the company has been trying to get that message across.

“We are trying to get a broader discussion going about this,” Kevin Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing, told WCM in a recent interview. “This might move very quickly through the legislative process in California and miss the key issues. CalARVC has been dealing with issues around their sanitation systems for years. This goes back decades that they’ve been having struggles with their legislative entities about their septic systems and their wastewater treatment plants.

“From time to time, we’ve been providing them with data, information, resources, and education, trying to help them navigate that problem,” Phillips added. “We are very sympathetic to the issues California campgrounds are facing. We just don’t think the bill they put in place is going to solve those problems.”

The bill puts the focus on deodorants and holding tank additives, and Phillips maintains that that’s not the main issue. “You’re out for a holiday weekend and everybody leaves Memorial Day Monday and they all dump at once,” he explained. “So you get a very large volume of very highly concentrated waste entering the system. These systems are very sensitive to both the organic load and the volume of waste. They also have to be properly maintained. They have to be properly sized, the waste has to be metered in so that it’s not hitting all at once in a short period of time, and you’ve got to monitor these systems.”

Thetford’s Mary Burrows, manager of chemical development, also doesn’t believe that the ban, as proposed, is the answer. “The products we are talking about and the two that are used most predominantly, formaldehyde and bronopol, are actually biodegradable,” she explained. “They don’t exist in a properly functioning system after a period of time.”

Burrows, for her part, suspects that the real issue concerns misuse.

Some of the eco-friendly products manufactured by Thetford Corp.

“Eliminating deodorant is not looking at the real problem,” she said. “What they need to address, at least look at and make sure, is that their systems are sized and operated properly so we can verify what the problem is. Again, we need data. Right now there are just assumptions.”

Phillips, on the other hand, agrees that Thetford doesn’t have enough scientific evidence itself to point to the exact problems California campgrounds are facing. “That’s the part we find to be very short-sighted about pushing this bill through so quickly with this one approach,” he countered. “There’s been no data presented, there have been no studies, no analysis that we know of that say that the deodorant actually causes the problems in the systems in these campgrounds.

“What we have seen is some studies that say the septic systems aren’t working,” he added. “We know that people have been cited for that, even though the citations were later removed. But it’s about the outflow of the system, not what’s going into it. That’s what we are saying. This is kind of a rush to judgment, a rush to a conclusion that is a bit unseemly.”

Phillips, in summary, feels that California needs to do more homework and then work together to solve the problems campgrounds are facing. Just how far Thetford gets with that position, however, remains to be seen because Sipe and her allies in this legislative effort apparently aren’t backing off.

“We know there are additional issues with septic systems and that solids are a concern and we hope to be able to work with Thetford in the future,” said Sipe. “But when all is said and done, formaldehyde is a preservative and you don’t want that in a septic system. You don’t want a product that is eating up the natural bacteria in a septic system.”

Sipe says she’s well aware that, along with formaldehyde-based products, Thetford markets “green” holding tank deodorants and additives that are third-party certified as environmentally safe. “Thetford’s two green alternatives are awesome alternatives that folks are using,” she noted. “Camping World recently had a sale on both of these green Thetford products and Thetford’s traditional (formaldehyde) Aqua-Kem. “The Aqua-Kem shelf was mostly full while the green alternative shelf was half empty. There is already a natural movement toward the greener products by the consumer.”

Time will tell what occurs with the current legislation. But Sipe is already planning on life after the ban is passed. “When this bill passes,” she said, “our goal will be to put out huge amounts of education throughout the entire country that these products are not allowed in California.”