Consumer Product and Packaging Alert: Enforcement Activities are Increasing for “Biodegradable” Claims and Toxics in Packaging

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California’s district attorneys and regulatory enforcement attorneys are increasing their policing efforts on consumer product label claims and packaging content.

Consumer product manufacturers and their packaging suppliers should make renewed efforts to ensure compliance with the California Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act (TIPPA) (see Cal. Health and Safety Code Section 25214.11) which limits the content of toxic metals (i.e., lead, cadmium, mercury or hexavalent chromium) to 100 ppm. Sale of any product with packaging exceeding this content limit is prohibited in the State of California. (Section 25214.13).

It appears in early 2018 that the enforcement focus is on all glass packaging since it the presence of recycled cullet increases the chance that incidental concentrations of lead will exceed 100 ppm. Inspections and investigations have begun with products purchased in stores of at least 5 major retailers.

At the same time, district attorneys and state prosecutors are showing an increased interest in policing claims of “biodegradability” on consumer product and packaging labels. The focus here is on plastic, not glass, since California law prohibits the sale of plastic labeled “biodegradeable”. (Cal. Pub. Res. Code Section 42357(b)). Prosecutors can seek penalties of up $5,000 per item sold carrying that label.

Retailers, manufacturers, brand owners, distributors are advised to review their sales inventory in California to ensure compliance.