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The Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR)

The National Conference on Weights and Measures, Inc. (NCWM) is a standards writing organization formed by the states to develop model regulations in order to promote uniformity and equity in the market place. States usually model their laws and regulations on these models. This leads to great similarity in the laws and regulations of various states, which makes interstate commerce much easier.

Among these model regulations are the "Uniform Laws and Regulations", which include the "Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation" (UPLR). The UPLR picks up where the federal government's "Fair Packaging and Labeling Act" (FPLA) stops in the coverage of marketplace goods. In 1999 The NCWM amended the UPLR to allow (but not require) metric-only labeling. Once adopted by the various states, it becomes effective for those jurisdictions.

An amendment to the FPLA has been drafted and two national, public forums have been held to gain the inputs and backing of commercial and public entities. This ammendment is expected to be presented to Congress, with the purpose of making metric-only labeling an option for goods regulated by the federal government.

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The rapid progress of adoption of permissible metric-only labeling at the state level

Fourteen states routinely and automatically adopt the current version of the UPLR by merely citing it as their state's packaging and labeling regulation; therefore they automatically adopted the UPLR amendment. Most of the remaining states joined this list either by taking overt action to adopt the UPLR or by separate action such as legislation or policy setting. Yet other states allowed metric-only labeling even prior to the amending of the UPLR model regulation. Metric MethodsSM and the U.S. Metric Association conducted a joint survey of the Weights and Measures officers of the states and jurisdictions in 2000 in order to determine their status on allowing metric-only labeling. By 2000 April 27, the replies showed incredibly rapid response in the several months since the UPLR amendment was adopted by the NCWM; half the states permitted metric-only labeling within just a few months of the effective date of the UPLR revision! By the fall of 2005, 46 states had signed on. Only four states remain to permit metric-only labeling: Alabama, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii.

The progress is about what we at Metric MethodsSM expected based on the 2000 survey. This rapid acceptance (27 states in 4 months, 40 states in about 2.5 years, now 46 states) of the option to use metric-only labeling on goods regulated at the state level is commensurate with the strong and nearly unanimous endorsement of the draft amendment to the FPLR that NIST presented at the forum. Especially noteworthy is that some states which first reported as not intending to allow metric-only labeling have since done so. As indicated by the forum speakers and apparently as indicated by the states' actions, businesses want the permissible metric-only labeling option to be made available to them in order to stay competitive. Allowing metric-only labeling removes a trade barrier for American businesses! Those businesses who wish not to provide metic-only labeling would of course be free to do so, but they must then continue to bear the costs of multiple labeling schemes.

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Goods covered by the UPLR

The following goods represent a partial list of the goods covered by the UPLR. This list is intended to be suggestive only; any doubtful items should be cleared via appropriate channels:

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