According to a statement released by The White House on January 28, 2016, President Obama signed into law “the ‘Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015,’ which requires the packaging of liquid nicotine containers to be subject to existing child poisoning prevention packaging standards.” The new bill necessitates that any liquid nicotine sold or imported into The United States adheres to standards and testing procedures determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the CPSC in part sets measures that make it more difficult for children to ingest harmful materials).
Liquid nicotine is used in the increasingly popular e-cigarette. Also commonly known as vaporizers, these devices work by heating a mixture of liquid nicotine, flavoring, water, and a liquid base (such as propylene glycol or glycerin). The liquid is heated to its boiling point, after which it becomes a vapor that can be inhaled.
Packaging standards like this are nothing new–the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (of which the Nicotine Poisoning act is now a part) is responsible for the requirement of child safety features on myriad hazardous products, including prescription drugs and over the counter medication, and chemicals such as turpentine, methanol, or acid. It was only a matter of time before liquid nicotine products became included in this act–in 2015, there were over 1,500 reported exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in children under the age of 6. Liquid nicotine is especially problematic with children, as it can be dangerous through skin contact alone.
Child-resistant packaging standards are tested and determined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)–specifically, child-resistant packaging falls under ISO 8317:2015, which outlines “…performance requirements and test methods for reclosable packages designated as resistant to opening by children.” Testing also covers how accessible the packaging is to able-bodied adults. Liquid nicotine packaging will likely now include a child-resistant cap.
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In the packaging industry, sustainability is an incredibly important practice. Sourcing materials responsibly, producing to reduce and reuse waste, and transporting goods by means of renewable energy can make a big difference to a company’s impact on the environment. Saving energy and resources can even save your company valuable time and money.
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a major voice in the world of sustainability. Headed by GreenBlue (a nonprofit focused on product sustainability), the SPC aims “…to build packaging systems that encourage economic prosperity and a sustainable flow of materials.” They hold ongoing discussions on the many facets of environmental health, offer guidelines for renewable design, and educate developers and consumers on what resources and tools are available to them in order to contribute to a healthier world.
The SPC has played a large role in defining what exactly sustainable packaging even is–according to their page, “[the SPC’s Definition of Sustainable Packaging] has been widely adopted throughout the packaging industry.” This definition states that sustainable packaging:
- Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost
- Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
- Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
- Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
- Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
- Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
- Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles
The SPC’s big vision is to create a “…closed loop system for all packaging.” Ecologists define a closed loop as a system “…that does not exchange matter with the outside world.” Where materials and energy would otherwise be thrown away and wasted, a closed loop system would look to repurpose them. Systems approaching a closed loop don’t just benefit the environment: they also save money in production. Energy and materials that can be repurposed instead of wasted should be seen as an opportunity to save the environment, time, resources, and money.
This week, we’ll be taking a look at the idea behind direct trade. A few weeks prior, we discussed the practice of fair trade: it’s an agreement that allows producers in developing countries to sell their products at a fair price, helps to keep their products sustainable, and makes sure their workers are being treated fairly. Fair trade acts as a sort of partnership which aims to make sure that no one is being taken advantage of.
Some consumers take issue with fair trade for a multitude of reasons, the most prevalent of which involves a lack of substantial evidence proving that fair trade practices positively impact the very countries which it claims to benefit, and that much of the money does not even go to the farmers who produce these goods (or their economy). Some critics claim that while fair trade is a good idea in theory, in practice, fair trade has “…evolved from an economic and social justice movement to largely a marketing model for ethical consumerism.”
Regardless of your opinion on fair trade, direct trade is worth taking a look at. It’s seen by many as an alternative, better, and more personalized version of fair trade. One of the biggest names in direct trade certification belongs to the co-owner of Counter Culture Coffee, Peter Giuliano, who self-identifies as a student of coffee (despite being in the industry for decades). He is also the director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Counter Culture Coffee boasts its own direct trade certification. According to their site,
“Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification is based on the principles guiding our coffee purchases and our relationships with coffee growers and grower groups. We engage an external auditor on an annual basis to verify Counter Culture’s compliance with four quantifiable measures, and coffees that meet the following standards qualify for Direct Trade Certification:
- Personal & direct communication: Counter Culture has visited all growers of certified coffees on a biennial basis, at minimum.
- Fair & sustainable prices paid to farmers: Counter Culture has paid at least $1.60/lb F.O.B. for green coffee.
- Exceptional cup quality: Coffees have scored at least 85 on a 100-pt. cup quality scale.
- Supply chain transparency: Counter Culture maintains direct communication between buyers, sellers, and any intermediaries (like importers). All relevant financial information is available to all parties, always.”
If you’ve read our fair trade post, you’ll probably recognize many of those practices. The difference is that with direct trade, a lasting relationship is built with the growers. Additionally, rather than meeting an extensive list of requirements (many of which may not apply to some growers, and may completely exclude those who are poor), requirements are personalized. In this way, direct trade is built to directly benefit the growers.