Gino DiCaro

Potential ban on packaging containers

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Jan. 4, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last December, Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) "gut-and-amended" AB 954 into legislation which prohibits the manufacture, sale and distribution of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging containers.  The ban would go into effect January 1, of next year, 2009.  

The bill defines "polyvinyl chloride packaging container" as any formed or molded article, comprised predominately of PVC plastic resin and having a relatively inflexible finite shape or form that is capable of maintaining its shape while holding, protecting or displaying other products.  The bill states that this includes, but is not limited to, items such as cups, bottles, bowls, boxes, clamshells, and blister packs.

A recent study by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse, of which California is a member, found that 61% of the PVC packaging that it tested contained toxic heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, in violation of state law. In addition to the toxic metal argument, the bill justifies the ban based on very low rates of recovery for recycling, that PVC contains hormone-disrupting phthalates and that there are affordable and already competitive alternatives in the marketplace.

Research has shown that phthalates disrupt hormones in rats, but no conclusive evidence exists that the same is true in humans.

AB 954, being a two-year bill, must be heard in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Committee by January 18th, by the Appropriations Committee by January 25th, and passed by the Assembly to the Senate by January 31st.

A footnote reminder - last year the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, AB 1108 (Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco) that bans phthalates in concentrations exceeding 1/10 of 1 percent in children's products.  It goes into effect January 1, 2009.

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