Report 1998

Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation: An Evaluation of its Provisions, Administration and Impact

The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) is pleased to announce the release of its 1998 report entitled Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation: An Evaluation of Its Provisions, Administration and Impact. This report follows from a requirement of the model legislation in which states are responsible for providing a summary of the effectiveness of their toxics in packaging laws and the extension of the recycling exemption. The first such review was published in 1994 under the title Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation: An Evaluation of Its Provisions, Administration and Impact.

Specifically, this report:

  • reviews the history of the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation,
  • evaluates its administrative procedures,
  • reviews the states’ enforcement policies and actions,
  • examines methodologies for testing, measuring industry compliance and
  • tracking the law’s effectiveness,
  • addresses barriers to compliance, and
  • suggests improvements to the model legislation’s provisions.

Appendices of the report include the most recent version of the model legislation, a list of current TPCH members, sample Certificates of Compliance, a question-and-answer document, and a comparative analysis of the model legislation versus the state laws.


In 1990, the Coalition of Northeastern Governors presented to the Northeastern states Model Legislation designed to phase out the use of mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in packaging within four years following enactment of the legislation. The Model Legislation attracted immediate attention from state officials in the Northeast and in other regions because it responded to public concerns about the potential public health and environmental effects of these substances when they are introduced into the municipal solid waste stream in discarded packaging.

This report reviews the history of the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation, evaluates its administrative procedures, reviews the states’ enforcement policies and actions regarding this legislation, examines methodologies for testing and measuring industry compliance and the laws’ effectiveness, addresses barriers to compliance, and suggests improvements to the Model Legislation’s provisions.


Chapter One      Describes the genesis of the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation, an early product of CONEG’s Source Reduction Council (SRC), the predecessor to the Source Reduction Task Force (SRTF), its objectives, key provisions and requirements, exemptions for certain products, and certification procedures. The Model Legislation presents an innovative self-certification approach to regulating packaging and its components. It does not regulate products.

Chapter Two      Describes the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH), created by the SRTF to simplify the law’s administrative procedures, promote cooperation between participating states, minimize procedural burdens on affected industries, and promote understanding and greater awareness of the Model Legislation’s objectives. This chapter also explains the TPCH procedures for addressing industry requests for exemptions and clarifications of the law’s provisions and intent as well as actions taken to improve the program’s efficiency.

Chapter Three   Discusses issues that have arisen concerning the Model Legislation’s administration, enforcement, impact and effectiveness. Although a number of states (18 to date) have enacted the Model Legislation, few of the states have aggressively enforced its provisions. This chapter also examines available methodologies for testing packaging for the regulated metals and limitations facing states in determining the effectiveness of this legislation in decreasing the presence of the regulated metals’ concentrations in the MSW stream.

Chapter Four     Presents the Clearinghouse’s recommended changes to the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation and the rationale for each change.

Chapter Five     States that no additional toxic substances will be recommended at this time by the TPCH for regulation under the Model Legislation pending the adoption of a toxicity protocol.

Chapter Six   Presents conclusions based upon the review and suggests future actions for the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation and the TPCH.


The Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation has been the basis for legislation enacted in 18 states to help reduce the presence of four heavy metals in the municipal solid waste stream. The Model Legislation requires affected industries to self-certify their compliance with the law. The Model also allows exemptions for certain packages meeting specific criteria.

The TPCH has helped to ease the states’ administration of the laws and disseminates information about the Model Legislation to other states and interested parties. The TPCH has also helped to ease industries’ burden of compliance with the member states’ legislation.

Methodologies exist to test packaging for the regulated metals, but a more effective test is needed for hexavalent chromium. Determining the overall impact of the Model Legislation’s impact on the municipal solid waste stream (MSW) has not been measured to date for lack of resources devoted to a very complex process. However, anecdotal information suggests that individual companies’ contributions to MSW have changed dramatically over the tenure of this legislation.

A risk assessment protocol for toxics should be adopted by the Clearinghouse and its member states before any additional substances are considered for regulation.

The TPCH is recommending several changes to the Model Legislation in order to ease the administration of the Model Legislation, clarify its provisions, and to ensure its requirements do not interfere with programs and policies that promote the production and use of recycled-content products and certain reusable containers.

The TPCH recommends implementing the following changes to the Model Legislation:

  • Emphasize its application to both domestic and foreign packaging and packaging components.
  • Extend the recycling exemption (5c) to January 1, 2010.
  • Slightly modify the exemption for packaging components with no feasible alternatives (5d).
  • Extend the exemption (5e) for the use of the regulated metals in certain special reusable packages and packaging components that are regulated under federal and state health, safety, transportation and disposal requirements to January 1, 2010.
  • Extend the controlled distribution and reuse exemption (5f) to January 1, 2010.
  • Extend the glass and ceramic vitrification exemption (5g) to January 1, 2005.
  • Amend the language to modify the periodic review and associated report on the effectiveness of the legislation.

(These recommendations are fully set forth in Chapter 4 of this report.)

Several future actions for the Clearinghouse are also recommended:

  • Encourage states without Toxics in Packaging legislation to adopt the Model and become members of the TPCH;
  • Actively recruit non-TPCH member states that have enacted the Model Legislation;
  • Develop a plan for testing and enforcement;
  • Monitor developments and gather data relating to Toxics in Packaging in the U.S. and internationally;
  • Identify a pool of experts to assist with technical issues submitted to the Clearinghouse;
  • Continue to update the Comparative Analysis of state Toxics in Packaging Laws;
  • Continue to track and coordinate all exemption and clarification requests on behalf of the member states;
  • Produce outreach and information materials for both industry and the states;
  • Work with the Council of State Governments to promote the Model Legislation nationally and internationally for worldwide uniformity

Cleaner Packaging, Cleaner World