DEEP: 1990 - Toxics in Packaging (TiP) Banned

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Environmental Accomplishments of the Past 40 Years

Toxics in Packaging Banned


A Municipal Solid Waste Task Force formed by the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) in the late 1980's led to legislation in Connecticut and several other states to regulate materials used in packaging for products.

The impetus for focusing on packaging was that it makes up approximately one-third of the municipal solid waste stream and by its very design, the value and utility of packaging is very short lived. When the product is opened, the package is usually discarded. Policymakers recognized the potential for detrimental environmental impact from the presence of certain metals contained in the discarded packaging when the package entered the waste stream and concerns about environmental and health effects from metals present in landfill leachate, incinerator ash and stack emissions.

As a result of these concerns, model Toxics in Packaging (TiP) legislation was developed to encourage state action to reduce the amount of heavy metals in packaging and packaging components that are sold or distributed throughout the United States. Specifically the law was designed to eliminate the use of four heavy metals with well-documented negative effects on human health and the environment. The metals are Cadmium (Cd), Hexavalent Chromium (Cr+6), Lead (Pb), and Mercury (Hg).

Nineteen states enacted legislation based on the model, with Connecticut one of the first in 1990. Several of the states banded together to form an umbrella organization to help administer the legislation and provide a single point of contact for affected industry, called the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH).

The legislation requires self-certification and promotes supply-chain responsibility. The manufacturer creates the Certificate of Compliance and provides it down the supply chain along with any other paperwork documenting the package or packaging component.

In the ideal case, the retailer and distributors include Toxics in Packaging (TiP) specifications in their purchasing specifications. In this way, the regulated metals are eliminated from packaging materials by changing the customer requirements.

Metal (steel) cans formerly used lead soldered joints but are now electron-beam welded or deep-drawn.
Flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastics are now lead and cadmium free.
Inks for printing on plastic bags are now lead and cadmium free.
Lead-foil wine bottle cork wrappers are now plastic or non-lead metal foil.

State Enforcement
When TPCH administrative measures fail to achieve compliance, the matter is referred to the states for enforcement. Connecticut issued the first in the nation action to a company marketing a nutritional supplement in a non-compliant package. This package included a lead component in a printed circuit board providing a blinking light to attract the potential customer to this particular brand instead of the competing brand next to it on the shelf. In this instance, the brand owner responded by recalling all non-compliant packaging and redesigning their packaging.

The Department also coordinated with the Office of the Attorney General to bring suit against several manufacturers and marketers of vinyl lunch bags with up to 1,200 ppm of lead. Since these items were typically used by children, the Department of Public Health, Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Program took an active role in the case. All manufacturers and marketers of the items ceased distribution of these items.

Current Challenges
Much of the packaging now used in this country is produced overseas, adding to the challenge of enforcing toxics in packaging standards.

To ensure enforcement, many large retailers have incorporated the TiP requirements into their purchasing requirements, driving these requirements "upstream" to the manufacturers, as intended.

In addition, the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse conducts sampling projects. When instances of non-compliance are uncovered, they are followed up by education of the responsible parties and, where warranted, enforcement actions by Connecticut and our partner states.

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