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New Jersey Legislation Would Ban Black Printing Ink

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Legislation entitled the Toxic Packaging Reduction Act (Senate Bill No. 3135) was passed on May 14, 2024, by the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee. The legislation is being sponsored by Senator Bob Smith (District 17-Middlesex and Somerset) and Senator John F. McKeon (District 27-Essex and Passaic).

If enacted into law, The Toxic Packaging Reduction Act would address several areas.

  • The bill would ban the sale of packaging and packaging products that contain certain “toxic” substances, including Carbon Black. Carbon Black is the primary pigment in black printing ink and there is no commercially available substitute. Obviously, enactment of even this provision of Senate Bill 3135 would be disastrous!
  • Within two years of enactment, the bill would also prohibit the sale of cardboard packaging materials unless the cardboard contains at least 75% postconsumer recycled content and is recycled at a rate of at least 75%.

The ban on carbon black would make it impossible to meet this requirement as when recycled corrugated is manufactured, the waste corrugated and other paper used to make it is not deinked, it is only repulped. Therefore, carbon black would be present in the recycled substrate. In addition, several of the other banned “toxic” chemicals can be present in trace concentrations thus adding to the inability to meet this requirement.

  • The legislation focuses on a mandated reduction by weight of “covered material.” “Covered material” is defined as plastic packaging material, single use plastic products and plastic products that will disrupt recycling processing. The bill would establish a mandatory schedule of weight reduction for “covered materials” reaching a 50% weight reduction within 10 years of enactment.

The bill would establish a “Toxic Packaging Task Force.” Their role would be to review the toxicity of packaging within New Jersey and to recommend the designation of additional toxic substances. This “Task Force” would consist of five members that include the Commissioner of Environmental Protection or the commissioner’s designee, one representative of the environmental community, one representative of the packaging industry and two members of the public with professional expertise in public health or toxicology. This committee would meet at least four times per year to review and recommend to the department whether there are additional toxic substances that would be subject to a ban.

  • Persons violating the “Toxic Packaging Reduction Act” are liable to civil penalties up to $7,500 per day of non-compliance for first offense.

The bill is not based on good science. Carbon Black, when incorporated into printing ink, is not toxic and does not present a threat to human health or the environment. This fact has been recognized, in writing, by OSHA and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). OEHHA is the organization responsible for administering California’s Proposition 65 program whose primary responsibility is maintaining a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Carbon Black has not been designated as hazardous under several relevant regulations including the Clean Water Act, RCRA, Superfund, SARA, and more.

Environmental groups are expressing concerns about the use of Carbon Black that are not based on scientific data. Unfortunately, unless your elected New Jersey legislators hear differently from you, that is what they will base their decision on for this legislation.

Please take a moment to visit the PGCA Legislative Action Center to weigh in with your elected New Jersey Senator.

Regarding the New Jersey General Assembly, there is currently no corresponding bill in the Assembly. However, this could change quickly. PGCA is monitoring the situation regarding an Assembly bill and will respond accordingly, if necessary.

For further information on this issue, please download our Statement of Opposition.

Questions? Contact Tim Freeman at 716-691-3211 or tim@printcommunications.org

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