At a City Council hearing in early February local business leaders warned aldermen not to prohibit the sale of children’s products containing the chemical bisphenol A, saying it would have a “serious financial impact” on retailers already reeling from the recession. The architects of the proposed ban, aldermen Manny Flores and Ed Burke, decided to hold their legislation, but promised to return to it if the federal government hadn’t acted by the end of April.
Ban proponents have had all the momentum in the five weeks since. Several leading Congressional Democrats have proposed a ban on all food and drink containers with the chemical. State rep Elaine Nekritz, among the most environmentally conscious legislators in the General Assembly, introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale in Illinois of bottles and food containers with BPA that are intended for children under three; 19 other lawmakers have signed on as cosponsors. And Suffolk County, New York, passed its own ban on kids’ products with BPA, beating out Chicago to become the first local government to restrict the chemical.
But the most significant pressure may be coming from inside the business world. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported last weekend:
“Sunoco, the gas and chemical company, sent word to investors that it was now refusing to sell bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, to companies for use in food and water containers for children younger than 3. Sunoco told investors it could not be certain of the compound’s safety.
“Last week, six baby bottle manufacturers, including Playtex and Gerber, announced that they would stop using BPA.”
During today’s full City Council meeting Flores and Burke announced that they were introducing an amended version of their BPA proposal. Instead of banning the sale of any “consumer product intended for use by, or care of, a child seven years or younger,” their new proposal takes cues from the state legislation and limits it to sports water bottles and containers intended for use by children three or younger.
Flores said they introduced the proposal now so that the council can take it up in May if the federal government hasn’t acted by then. He said there’s no reason to wait to see if the General Assembly makes it redundant.
“Part of this campaign has always been to inform people, and the more spotlight we focus on this problem, the better off we’ll be,” he said. “The chemical and plastic industry has a lot of power and money, as we’ve already seen. This is a critical campaign, and we should pursue it at every level of government.”