What are the Laws in the U.S. and the EU Governing the Use of PVC in Packages?
a. We have been told by a customer that PVC packaging will be banned in California. I can find no such reference provided that the packaging conforms with existing RoHS rules. Can you confirm for me that laws in California, the U.S., and the EU do not ban PVC packaging per se?
b. What is the ruling on using PVC bottles for a consumer product? I understand that some states, such as California and Washington, have banned the use of PVC. Can you tell me if this is true and what states have this regulation?
Currently, there are no state laws banning the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in packaging products. However, a bill has been introduced in California that would prohibit the sale or distribution into commerce of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging containers. Bill Number AB 954, introduced by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, would add Section 6057 to the Harbors and Navigation Code (Chapter 9.5 of Part 3 of Division 104 of California's Health and Safety Code). For purposes of Chapter 9.5, "polyvinyl chloride packaging container" means "any formed or molded article comprised predominantly of polyvinyl chloride 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." PVC containers that would be subject to the ban include, but are not limited to cups, bottles, bowls, boxes, clamshells, or other package shapes, including blister packs. Were Bill AB 954 to become law, the sale or distribution into commerce of PVC packaging containers would be prohibited in the State of California commencing on January 1, 2009. The bill is scheduled to be heard in committee on March 25, 2008. It is important to remember, though, that vinyl chloride is one of the chemicals that require a clear and reasonable warning under California's Proposition 65.
While Washington State has not banned the use of PVCs, it has a program to reduce persistent, bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). The state's Department of Ecology's list of PBTs currently has twenty-nine chemicals or chemical groups on it, including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans—byproducts of PVC/vinyl production. In March 2007, the department released its schedule for producing Chemical Action Plans for these chemicals (click here to view). The plan contains recommendations for reducing dioxins and furans, which includes developing emissions factors and dioxin emission testing test requirements for wood-fired boilers, cement kilns, and crematoria. However, polyvinyl chloride is not specifically mentioned in the report.
In response to your question about bans on PVC packaging in the European Union, please click here to see the response to a previous PackagingLaw.com question on this topic.