Lead in Reusable Bags: What You Need to Know
In a January 24 report, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) stated that reusable polypropylene bags from a number of large retailers, including CVS, Walgreens and Staples, contained volumes of lead several times the level allowed by some states. The story quickly spread, with some people questioning the safety of the shopping bags, while others questioned the accuracy of the tests and the motives of the CCF.
"The media's scrutiny of the product safety of these bags has been inconsistent, misleading, and in some cases, wholly inaccurate," said Christopher Duffy, vice president of marketing for Bag Makers, Union, Ill. To address distributor concerns, Promo Marketing spoke with Duffy and Rick Brenner, CEO of Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Prime Line, both leaders in the promotional bags industry, to explain what the CCF report means and how it will affect distributors and the industry.
Some of the confusion begins with the lead requirements. "There are lead standards in CPSIA and FHSA that apply to children's products, but those don't necessarily apply," explained Brenner. "And there are certain FDA requirements for food packaging materials but it isn't clear that those apply either." CPSIA currently requires no more than 300 parts-per-million (ppm) lead in a product substrate, although this may change in August, and 90 ppm lead in paint, but these regulations only apply to children's products. Further, some states already enforce a 100 ppm lead limit while others do not. "It is likely that there is no current federal regulation that applies to reusable grocery bags," Brenner said.
While there is confusion surrounding federal requirements and legal limits, there is little doubt regarding the alleged dangers of most polypropylene bags. "For a number of reasons, I don't believe end-buyers and consumers have anything to worry about regarding the safety of their reusable bags," said Duffy.
Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.