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Heavy-metal ban proposal spreads.

Heavy-Metal Ban Proposal Spreads A model bill drafted in January that could reduce use of heavy metals in packaging in nine Northeastern states is quickly being copied around the country (see PT, March '90, p. 113). The proposal by the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) calls for manufacturers to cut use of four suspected cancercausing heavy metals--lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium--in their products to 600 ppm two years after the legislation is enacted, 250 ppm within three years, and 100 ppm within four years. The proposal would provide an exemption for packaging made from recycled materials and for cases where heavy-metal compounds are essential to the protection, safe handling, or function of a package's contents.

Since February, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin have either introduced statutes based on the CONEG bill or included similar provisions in broader recycling legislation. Wisconsin, for example, added a section to its recycling act that mandates the exact limits and implementation schedule in the CONEG proposal. That bill, which has already cleared both houses of the legislature, was to be signed into law by April 27.


Of the states for which the model law was originally drafted--Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont--only New Hampshire and Massachusetts have yet to introduce versions into their legislatures.

Maine may become the first state to actually adopt a heavy-metal reduction law. On April 5, both houses of the legislature passed a bill based on the CONEG model, along with a stipulation saying that substitutes for lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium may not be more hazardous than the metal they replace. At press time, the bill was still being reviewed by Gov. John R. McKernan Jr.

Vermont has taken a "wait-and-see" position toward its heavy-metals ban, which is included in its pending solid-waste legislation. Under that proposed bill, a ban on heavy metals in packaging would become effective when one or more Northeastern states having a combined population of 10 million enact similar legislation.

States outside the Northeast are supporting bills to prohibit use of the four metals in packaging, but have not strictly adhered to the CONEG model. The Iowa proposal, which failed to make it to the house floor by end of the last session, would ban within two years the sale of any package, packaging material, or product used in packaging that contained inks, dyes, pigments, adhesives, stabilizers or additives made with the four metals. A similar bill in Minnesota will be reintroduced when its legislature reconvenes in January.
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Title Annotation:Regulatory Update; packaging
Author:Monks, Richard
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:Degradables continue to lose favor.
Next Article:Energy-saving drive cuts demand 48% to 74% on longer cycles.

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