CPSIA and the Green Chemistry Initiative – Recent Environmental Regulations Affecting the Plastics Molding Industry

by Dianna Brodine, Plastics Business

Be sure to learn more about these two pieces of legislation, both taking effect in early 2009. The information included here is a summary only – please do additional research to find out how these laws may affect your molding business.

Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was signed by George W. Bush in August 2008 and is expected to take effect on February 10, 2009. Introduced in Congress partially as a reaction to toys manufactured in China with high lead content, “the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number,” according to the Handmade Toy Alliance.

“Three phthalates, DEHP, DBP, and BBP, have been permanently prohibited by Congress in concentration of more than 0.1% in ‘children’s toys’ or ‘child care articles.’ A ‘children’s toy’ means a product intended for a child 12 years of age or younger for use when playing, and a ‘child care article’ means a product that a child 3 and younger would use for sleeping, feeding, sucking or teething. Three additional phthalates, DINP, DIDP, and DnOP, have been prohibited pending further study and review by a group of outside experts and the Commission. This interim prohibition applies to child care articles or toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth or brought to the mouth and kept in the mouth so that it can be sucked or chewed that contain a concentration of more than 0.1% of the above phthalates.” (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)

The prohibited phthalates can not be used in any part of the toy or child care article, even if it is an internal part and will not come in contact with the child. Also included in the legislation is a tracking requirement, requiring all toys meant for children under the age of 12 to have a tracking label or other permanent mark that specifies date of manufacture, product source, and batch number. This will require plastics molders to update molds in some cases. Tracking labels are required by Aug. 14, 2009.

Green Chemistry Initiative
In December of 2008, the state of California, led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, launched the Green Chemistry Initiative. According to the web site of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), “green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.”

The leading legislation, AB 1879, was signed into law by the Governor in September of 2008. AB 1879 directs the DTSC to establish a process by Jan. 1, 2011 to determine which chemicals or chemical ingredients could be identified as “chemicals of concern.” Also required as of that date is a process to evaluate the chemicals and determine a method of reducing their hazards. According to the text of the legislation:

“The regulations would be required to specify actions that the department may take following the completion of the analysis, including imposing requirements to provide additional information, requirements for labeling or other types of product information, controlling access to or limiting exposure, managing the product at the end of its useful life, or funding green chemistry challenge grants, restrictions on the use of the chemical of concern in the product, or prohibitions on use.”