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New York State's Hazardous Packaging Law

Poster of a woman in a supermarket with groceries in packing containing hazardous materialsNew York State adopted legislation in 1990 under Article 37 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (link leaves DEC's website), that set forth specific requirements and restrictions on the use of four toxic heavy metals when used in packaging. The metals restricted include: lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium. This Hazardous Packaging Law was adopted from model legislation originally developed by the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG) and was designed to reduce the use of these four metals in packaging. Packaging comprises approximately one-third of the waste stream. The law was intended to reduce the toxicity of this waste stream prior to disposal, without impeding the continued use of post-consumer materials in the production of packaging.

In addition to New York, toxics in packaging legislation has now been adopted by nineteen states and various other countries including the European Union. General interpretation and administration of the provisions of the toxics in packaging legislation are handled by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) of which New York State is a member. The TPCH is presently operated under the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. (NERC). Specific interpretation and administration of New York's Hazardous Packaging law are handled by the DEC's Division of Materials Management, Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling.

The Hazardous Packaging Law establishes maximum concentrations allowable for lead, cadmium, mercury or hexavalent chromium which can be present in any packaging or packaging component sold in New York State. The Law also sets forth definitions, exemptions, and violation provisions.

The TPCH recently completed a comprehensive packaging testing program to evalute the impact of these laws on packaging and to help target packaging sectors for additional outreach and education. Results of the testing program and a description can be found on TPCH's website.