Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As Europe Bans BPA in Baby Bottles, USEPA Works with BPA Manufacturers in Design for the Enviroment

Bisphenol-A, more commonly known as BPA, has gotten a lot of attention lately.  As noted last week, the EU has voted to ban BPA from baby bottles beginning in March 2011, and not long ago Canada declared BPA to be CEPA-toxic.  Meanwhile in the USA the Environmental Protection Agency is following through on at least some of the provisions of its Chemical Action Plan for BPA.  One of those provisions was for EPA to engage industry in its Design for the Environment program, or DfE.

Initially the DfE program is focusing on "finding safer alternatives to BPA used as a developer for dyes in thermal paper, which is often used in cash register or sales receipts."  This narrowing down into a specific use of the chemical is typical of DfE, where the goal is to examine all the ways to solve one particular identified risk area.  In the case of BPA, the DfE program officially kicked off in July 2010 and is just now compiling a list of viable BPA alternatives and alternative technologies.  The goal is to complete a draft evaluation of ecological and human health hazards and environmental fate by May of 2011, with a final report in October 2011.

According to the DfE site, "some receipts made of thermal paper may now contain as much as 10 mg of BPA, which could pose a risk for human exposure, as well as account for substantial environmental releases of BPA. The goal of this assessment is to facilitate movement towards safer alternatives used in thermal paper."

More information on the program, and a list of participating companies and their representatives, see here.  Participants include thermal paper manufacturers and converters, chemical manufacturers, retailers, trade associations, trade unions, NGOs, government representatives, green chemistry consultants, and others.  All working to find solutions for a particular identified chemical use pattern.

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