Ban on polyvinyl chloride packaging

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 21, 2008

Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) has re-introduced her 2007 bill (AB 954) which failed to get out of its first policy committee.  The new bill, AB 2505, would also ban polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging beginning January 1, 2010.  

PVC packaging has a number of unique and extremely desirable characteristics which make it the type of packaging preferred for a number of applications.  It allows low permeation, so it is an excellent choice for packaging petroleum products such as lighter fluid and automotive fluids.  PVC has moisture barrier properties that help protect and extend the shelf life of products.  It has better forming, cutting and sealing capabilities than comparable alternatives. The alternatives are also not as abundant, affordable or competitive in the marketplace.  

AB 2505 is based on the erroneous assumption that PVC packaging poses an environmental and health risk throughout its life cycle.  The bill incorrectly interprets data from a recent Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse report regarding heavy metals in PVC as justification for this ban.  Under current statutes authority to regulate the use of heavy metals in packaging rests with the Department of Toxics Substance Control. We believe it should remain with them for their experience and knowledge on such subjects.

There is no evidence that vinyl chloride leaches out of packaging to threaten human, marine wildlife or the environment.  PVC has been used safely for decades for medicines, food, difficult-to-mold shapes and other applications.  In fact, it is the material of choice for blood bags – helping blood last longer than other forms of packaging.  PVC liners are used for landfills.  PVC is the material of choice in piping for municipal aquariums.  In addition, it creates far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than common alternatives.  

The fact that the author has exempted pharmaceuticals (ingested products) from compliance with this bill, but outlaws its use in packaging articles like tools, nuts and bolts, etc. contradicts statements that the product should be considered dangerous.

AB 2505 will be heard on April 1 by the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.  CMTA is in opposition.  

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