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Report: Imported PVC packaging sold in retail chains violates state toxic laws

Almost 40% of imported PVC packaging sold by discount retail chains was tested and found to violate state toxics laws according to a new report released by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH). These packages contained cadmium or lead, which are restricted by laws in 19 states due to toxicity, according to the study.

Almost 40% of imported PVC packaging sold by discount retail chains was tested and found to violate state toxics laws according to a new report released by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH). These packages contained cadmium or lead, which are restricted by laws in 19 states due to toxicity, according to the study.

Six of the eight retail chains have a significant presence in the U.S., operating at least 500 locations each across 35 or more states. The other two discount retail chains were regional with at least 100 stores in multiple states. Almost all products were imported from China.

TPCH was formed in 1992 to promote the model toxics in packaging legislation.  It was developed in an effort to reduce the amount of heavy metals in packaging and packaging components that are sold or distributed throughout the U.S. TPCH screens packaging for the presence of regulated metals using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis.

Patricia Dillon, Program Manager at TPCH, told PlasticsToday TPCH routinely undertakes studies to assess compliance with state toxics in packaging laws. Previous studies have identified imported PVC packaging as a potential source of cadmium and/or lead, she said.

TPCH targeted discount retail chains because of its readily available source of imported products; the fact it's inexpensive to purchase products packaged in PVC; and the stores operate in multiple, if not all, TPCH member states.

"TPCH is not disclosing the names of the retail chains since the purpose of the study was to assess compliance and promote voluntary change within the retailers," she said. "I can say that these retailers are well known." 

She said the retail chain stores have already taken corrective actions to address the failed packaging samples and future compliance including:

  • Pulled product off the retail shelf in TPCH member states, the most common action;
  • Returned product and/or packaging to supplier;
  • Implemented new quality assurance procedures for suppliers and incoming packaging; and
  • Purchased an XRF instrument to conduct internal screening of packaging.

"TPCH will continue to purchase and screen PVC packaging from retail chains," she said. "If future non-compliance is found, the information will be provided to member states, who will decide what action to take."

This is the third toxicity report TPCH has published on packaging. TPCH will publish a report this fall on inks and colorants in packaging.

TAGS: Packaging
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