Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation (formerly known as CONEG legislation) was developed in 1989 to reduce the amount of four heavy metals in packaging and packaging components sold or distributed throughout the United States. It was intended for adoption by individual states, thus providing a consistent set of requirements across U.S. states. Legislation based on this Model has been adopted by nineteen states as of 2021. The influence of the Model Legislation also extends beyond U.S. borders. The European Union, for example, used the Model as the basis of its packaging requirements (94/62/EC).

The Model, and state laws based on the Model, prohibit the intentional use of any amount of four metals ─ lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in any packaging and packaging component.  In addition, the sum of the concentration levels of incidentally introduced lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium present in any package or individual packaging component cannot exceed 100 parts per million by weight.

State toxics in packaging laws as of 2021 are consistent with the original Model Legislation for the most part. For example, all U.S. state toxics in packaging laws have the same basic requirements – that is, no intentional use of any amount of the four restricted metals and a threshold level of 100 ppm for the total of the four metals combined. Where state laws may differ is in allowable exemptions and enforcement, for example. State laws take precedence over the Model Legislation. A comparison between the original Model and the laws of TPCH member states is available here.

In February 2021, the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) announced the organization’s 2021 update to their Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation. The update includes the addition of the class of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and ortho-phthalates as regulated chemicals, as well as new processes and criteria for identifying and regulating additional chemicals of high concern in packaging. Incidental concentration may result from the use of post-consumer recycled content to manufacture new packaging and components.

The laws take a pollution prevention approach by prohibiting intentional use, and they place the primary burden of compliance on the supply chain by requiring manufacturers and suppliers to verify that their products are in compliance.

It will be up to each state to adopt changes to their existing laws or adopt a new law to address toxics in packaging. 

Cleaner Packaging, Cleaner World