By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On November 15, 2022, a coalition petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require human and environmental health and safety testing for polyvinyl alcohol (PVA/PVOH) as it is used in consumer-packaged goods, “with particular attention to the use of PVA in laundry and dishwasher detergent pods and sheets.” The petitioners request that until such testing is completed, EPA remove PVA/PVOH from its Safer Choice Program “to curb plastic pollution.”
The coalition was filed on behalf of Blueland and Plastic Pollution Coalition, as well as the following “leading nonprofit organizations fighting plastic pollution and climate change”: Beyond Plastics; Plastic Oceans International; The Shaw Institute; Lonely Whale; 5 Gyres; GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives); Oceanic Global Foundation; The Last Beach Cleanup; Rio Grande International Study Center; Inland Ocean Coalition; Occidental Arts and Ecology Center; Turtle Island Restoration Network; Friends of the Earth; Surfrider; and Made Safe.
The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) released a statement on November 15, 2022, regarding the “misinformation that is being spread about PVA/PVOH.” ACI states that it “believe[s] this recent effort by NGOs to petition the EPA is part of an ongoing marketing campaign funded by a company with an interest in preventing other companies from using this technology.” According to ACI, the marketing campaign “ignores decades of science and research demonstrating the biodegradability of this chemistry.”
EPA is required to grant or deny TSCA Section 21 petitions within 90 days from the day the petition is filed with EPA. If EPA grants the petition, EPA must promptly commence an appropriate proceeding. If EPA denies the petition, EPA must publish the reasons for its denial in the Federal Register.