Pods are Plastic Bill: NYC lawmakers propose ban on laundry products containing PVA plastic
09 Feb 2024 — New York City, US, lawmakers propose the Pods Are Plastic Bill, which, if passed, would make it unlawful for any person or entity to sell or distribute any laundry or dishwasher detergent pods and sheets containing polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). The bill was brought forward by NYC Council Member James Gennaro and supported by Blueland and Beyond Plastics.
Blueland sells household cleaning and personal care products with refill tablets or powder formulas. The cleaning solutions activate when combined with tap water.
The company says that over 20 billion plastic laundry and dishwasher pods are estimated to be used and sent into water supplies annually in the US. In water, PVA breaks apart into microplastics and nanoplastics, which have been shown to impact the environment and human health negatively.
According to reports, opponents of the bill argue that prohibiting PVA could reduce the progress of sustainable fabric care innovation.
If approved, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2025.
Hurting human and environmental health
The eco-friendly cleaning product company says that leading brands sell detergent pods wrapped in PVA, the synthetic, petroleum-based plastic film.
Research commissioned by Blueland reveals more than 75% of intact plastic particles from laundry and dishwasher pods can be released into waterways and the surrounding environment.
Pods Are Plastic Bill aims to keep PVA plastic out of waterways.Once the material is released into the environment, it has the potential to absorb dangerous chemicals and contaminants, antibiotics and heavy metals. This can end up in the food chain and has recently been found amongst other microplastics in drinking water and human breast milk.
In a study titled “Raman Microspectroscopy Detection and Characterisation of Microplastics in Human Breastmilk,” researchers collected human breastmilk samples from 34 women. Microplastic contamination was found in 26 of the 34 samples.
Additional research from Mexico investigates the occurrence of microplastics in drinking water samples collected from 22 self-distributed refill kiosks in Mexico City. Microplastics were detected in all the samples, with an overall mean concentration of 74.18 ± 48.76 microplastics L−1.
Refill kiosks expose children more than adults to microplastics.
Blueland also cites research that shows that none of NYC’s 14 wastewater treatment plants can fully treat plastic film used in pods and sheets, resulting in more than 13 million pounds of plastic “potentially polluting NYC waters each year.”
The company says “several alternative” solutions to single-dose pods — such as liquid jugs, powder and tablets — “are widely available, more affordable, and don’t use PVA or plastic packaging.”
By Sabine Waldeck
This feature is provided by Packaging Insights’s sister website, Personal Care Insights.
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