Well. It’s official, Canada has formally listed bisphenol-A (BPA) as a toxic substance and is moving forward to restrict its uses in consumer products.
Back here in Maine on October 7th, the Board of Environmental Protection took a step forward on BPA by exercising their authority to require an alternatives assessment for uses in infant formula and baby food. We had hoped that the BEP would take a bigger step by adopting actual use restrictions for BPA infant formula and baby food on BPA. But this is still a good opportunity to test out how the alternatives assessment authority for Maine’s Safer Chemicals Law will work in practice.
Maine’s BEP will also most likely approve restrictions on BPA in reusable food and beverage containers (like baby bottles and the old Nalgene-type polycarbonate plastic water bottles). Such action (which we hope will happen at their December 16th meeting) will mostly codify what the market has already done as you will be hard pressed to find any BPA-containing bottles in stores anymore.
Because the Board did not follow our full recommendation to immediately restrict uses of BPA in infant formula and baby food, Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection will now have to go through a laborious and time-consuming process to have industry conduct an assessment, review the information and make a recommendation. We could be waiting until as long as 2013 before a rule makes its way to the Legislature to restrict these BPA uses, and that’s too long to wait to protect Maine kids.
However, even though it’s not an outright ban, the alternatives assessment process sends a message to manufacturers that the “handwriting is on the wall” for BPA. They also have to fund and create a legitimate alternatives assessment. Over the next six months, we will work with our friends in the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine to ensure DEP moves swiftly so that these uses of BPA are scrutinized and recommendations are forthcoming for the 2012 legislative session.
–Matt Prindiville, NRCM Clean Production Project Director