Picture taken by Kim Clark, 2009

Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction

Toxics in Packaging

Based on national model legislation, Washington adopted Toxics in Packaging legislation (70.95G Revised Code of Washington) in 1991. The law limits levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium used in product packaging to no more than 100 parts per million by weight for the total concentration of all four metals. Manufacturers and suppliers are responsible for providing a “certificate of compliance” that their packaging meets the requirements of the law.

National and interstate cooperation

The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) was formed in 1992 to promote Toxics in Packaging Legislation. TPCH:

  • Coordinates activities among the member states.
  • Provides model legislation for states considering adopting similar legislation.
  • Responds to questions from businesses.
  • Offers additional resources, particularly in the areas of package testing, information sharing, and enforcement.

The Washington Department of Ecology became a TPCH member in 2008, based on growing concerns around the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and Ecology's increased emphasis on this issue. Nineteen states have toxics-in-packaging laws now. Ten states are currently TPCH members. Nine states have similar legislation but are not currently members. 

In 2006, TPCH received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test packaging for compliance and to increase awareness among businesses and suppliers about toxics in packaging.

Projects & Publications offers TPCH reports that include results of testing using EPA grant funding.

Enforcing the law

Enforcement varies by state and is not part of the legislation maintained by TPCH. States can ask manufacturers and suppliers to provide certificates of compliance. Some states levy monetary penalties for non-compliance. Washington does not have the authority to levy penalties, but it does have the authority to ban the sale of a product in Washington that does not comply with the legislation if a "certificate of compliance" is not provided when requested.

Certificates of Compliance forms are available on the TPCH website.

Toxics in Packaging is part of Ecology’s broader efforts to address toxics in consumer products. With the passage of the Children’s Safe Product Act in 2008, Ecology increased its efforts to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals used in consumer products and to make consumers more aware of safer alternatives.

Ecology tests products for chemicals to ensure manufacturers are in compliance. Between 2012 and 2013, Ecology tested packaging from products sold in Washington and found most manufacturers are complying with the law. Only two of the packages tested were over the limit on toxic metals. You can view the product testing reports by following the links in the right column.

More information

For more information, you can also search all of Ecology's testing in the Product Testing Database.

External Links:

Product testing reports

Metals in Children’s and Consumer Products and Packaging (Publication 14-04-014)

Phthalates in Children’s Products and Consumer and Children’s Packaging (Publication 14-04-017)

News releases

Children’s products tested for toxic chemicals (April 14, 2014)

Contacts

Saskia van Bergen
Toxics in Packaging lead
360-407-6609

Andrew Wineke
Communications Manager
360-407-6149