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Amazon Bans Toxic Chemicals from Food Packaging

Posted on 12/23/2020 by Lauren Scott

On December 8, Amazon announced that it would ban a series of toxic chemicals from food packaging used on its Amazon Kitchen brand. This latest update is part of Amazon’s Chemicals and Restricted Substances policy announced in 2018 to reduce usage of “chemicals of concern” as well as to promote transparency and accessibility to the company’s product health and sustainability data.

The chemicals to be prohibited from food packaging include PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), phthalates, BPA (bisphenol A) and other bisphenols, perchlorate, benzophenone, lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and the solvents NMP (N-Methylpyrrolidone), 2-Ethoxyethanol, 2-Methoxyethanol, and toluene.

The ban also lists a series of plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Non-recyclable plastics on the list include polycarbonates (PC), polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), rigid polylactic acid (PLA), and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).

Amazon defines these “chemicals of concern” as chemicals that “(1) meet the criteria for classification as a carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive, or other systemic toxicant; or (2) are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic.” These guidelines may be prioritized differently based on the product type, concerns from the public, and availability of safer alternatives.

The announcement comes after several State and local governments have begun the process of phasing out toxic substances, particularly PFAS, from food packaging. Maine and Washington are expected to begin statewide phaseouts of PFAS in food packaging on January 1, 2022. On December 3, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill prohibiting PFAS in food packaging, to take effect in 2023.

Last year, Federal legislation to ban PFAS in food packaging was introduced by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

PFAS Chemicals as Regulated Under EPCRA for Manufacturers

On June 22, 2020, US EPA promulgated a Final Rule to add 172 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances to the list of toxic chemicals subject to Toxic Release Inventory or TRI reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

The 172 PFAS chemicals have been listed at 40 CFR 372.29 with a reporting threshold of 100 pounds.
Facilities that manufacture, process, or use 100 lbs. or more of any of the newly added PFAS chemicals must report on their activity on the EPCRA TRI report due July 1, 2021.

EPA added these chemicals in part to satisfy a statutory or legal requirement in the most recent National Defense Authorziaton Act (NDAA), Section 330A.

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The Complete Environmental Regulations online course will prepare you to identify your site's liabilities and responsibilities under major environmental laws and regulations. This course is ideal for new EHS managers, environmental consultants, and anyone who wants clarity about how complex environmental requirements fit together. 

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Tags: chemical, chemical reporting, environmental, EPA, EPCRA, PFAS

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