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State initiatives impact nonwovens industry.

State Initiatives Impact Nonwovens Industry

A significant amount of legislation is being introduced at the state level that could impact the nonwovens industry. Furthermore, with Congressional attention focused on the situation in the Middle East, it is likely that the states will be taking the lead in 1991 on issues such as solid waste management, "green" advertising, medical waste disposal and other items of interest to the industry.

In fact, so many bills are being introduced in the various state legislatures that INDA has authorized additional resources to track the introduction and status of these initiatives.

A primary INDA concern is that bills may be introduced at the state level on matters relevant to the nonwovens industry and that the state legislatures will not give adequate thought to the impact the measures would have if eventually adopted.

For this reason, INDA will work with its Government Relations Advisory Board (GRAB), its Disposability Committee, its Health Care Committee and the INDA Communication Action Network (ICAN) to address these bills on a structured basis and help ensure that the state legislatures are aware of the nonwovens industry's viewpoint on these measures.

Diaper Bills

Of those bills that have already been introduced, a number of them have to do with disposable diapers. In the first month of 1991, for example, seven separate measures were introduced that would restrict, further regulate or completely prohibit the sale of disposable diapers.

For example, bills have been introduced in New Jersey and Colorado that would require disposable diapers to be packaged with labeling that provides consumers with information about the environmental "burdens" posed by disposing of the product.

Other diaper bills pending in the state legislatures include a measure introduced in Connecticut that is specifically designed to encourage the use of cloth diapers by placing a tax on disposable diapers. In New York, four separate measures have been introduced (three in General Assembly and one in the Senate) that would either prohibit sales of non-biodegradable diapers and incontinent pads outright or require that hospitals inform new parents about the environmental impact of using disposable diapers.

Regarding diapers, though, there is some good news from the New York State Legislature. Measures have been introduced in both the General Assembly and the Senate that would exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from state sales and use taxes. INDA would likely support these types of initiatives.

`Green' Advertising And

Medical Waste Measures

In addition to the diaper bills, INDA has also identified several measures that have been introduced at the state level that would regulate "green" advertising claims and would restrict incineration of medical waste.

In Indiana, for example, a measure has been introduced in the House that would require those who make environmental advertising claims file supporting documentation for those claims with the state's Dept. of Environmental Management. In New Jersey, a measure has been introduced in the General Assembly that would establish standards for "environmentally preferred" packaging. Green advertising measures have already been adopted in California, New York, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

So far this year, medical waste measures have been introduced in seven different states and each of these measures, if adopted, could have severe impact on the use of medical nonwovens. In Vermont, for example, a measure is pending in the House of Representatives that would require generators of medical waste to determine source reduction techniques and adopt a plan to document and implement source reduction methods. Such methods could likely involve conversion to reusable surgical drapes and gowns and other steps that reduce the use of medical disposables.

Furthermore, bills introduced in Montana, Missouri and Nebraska would all restrict or prohibit the establishment of medical waste incinerators. Two bills introduced in New York would require that bonds be posted by medical waste permit holders to ensure the cleanup of medical waste that has been illegally disposed.

INDA Action

None of these bills has yet progressed beyond their introduction. Furthermore, it is impossible to predict which, if any, will eventually become law. Also, since these measures were introduced in just the first month of 1991 it is very probable that they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of legislative activity likely to take place at the state level in the near future.

INDA is assessing its options in responding to these measures and similar ones introduced in the future.

In terms of specific strategies for addressing these bills, however, the only thing for certain at this time is that action will have to be taken if any of them begins to be realistically considered. Adoption of just about any of these measures, in their present form, could have a severe impact on the nonwovens industry.
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Title Annotation:Capital Comments
Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Japanese spunbonded nonwovens.
Next Article:Adult incontinence products; competing for the future.

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