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Blueland and Plastic Pollution Coalition Petition the EPA

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of how products affect their overall well-being, product regulation is ramping up.

On Tuesday, eco-friendly cleaning and wellness brand Blueland and the Plastic Pollution Coalition announced its petition to the Environmental Protection Agency to require environmental safety testing of PVA or polyvinyl alcohol in dishwasher pods, laundry detergent pods and laundry sheets.

“It also requests that PVA be removed from the Safer Choice List and Safer Chemical Ingredients List until it can complete the requested health and environmental safety testing,” said Sarah Paiji Yoo, cofounder and chief executive officer of Blueland, which sells dish and laundry products, as well as an array of refillable personal care products.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of how products affect their overall well-being, product regulation is ramping up. Most notably, Paiji Yoo pointed to the ban on microbeads in cosmetics and skin care products as a “good analogue” as the brand established this petition. Similar to the microbead ban, Paiji Yoo expects consumers to respond and demand change upon understanding these pods are plastics that can ultimately end up in drinking water.

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“Once consumers recognize that pods are plastic, we have a high chance of success in being able to change behavior both at the consumer but also at the government level,” she said.

Polyvinyl alcohol is considered to be a water-soluble film, and it is used in an array of consumer packaged goods, including in several types of beauty and personal care products, including shampoos, makeup and skin care formulas, as it acts as a liquid binder.

Blueland recently commissioned a study conducted by researchers at Plastic Oceans International that showed “75 percent of plastic pods just from laundry and dishwasher detergents remain intact throughout conventional wastewater treatment and may persist in our environment, waterways, oceans and soils,” as stated in the petition. The brand estimates about 20 billion of these plastic-covered pods are ending up in water systems, adding to the recent statistic from a World Wildlife Fund study stating that people consume a credit card’s worth of plastic every week.

“We have a lot of confidence in the success of the petition, because it really is, when you read through the mandate of the EPA, it really is right in line. To us, it feels like it’s so clear that these are easy steps that the EPA can take that are definitionally in line with what it’s been set up to do,” Paiji Yoo said.

While dishwasher and laundry detergent pods use polyvinyl alcohol, there are plastic-free, affordable alternatives on the market. “The alternatives are either using a liquid or powdered detergent. Blueland, as well as a handful of other brands, now also have compressed tablets, so they’re like naked tablets that provide the single-dose convenience, but without that plastic film,” she said. 

The petition, which can be read in full and signed at Blueland.com/PodsArePlastic, is also cosigned by 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 and Made Safe.