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USA: Washington bans PFAS in paper food packaging

april 2018 - Relevant for: hardlines INDUSTRY

The Governor of Washington state has recently signed the Healthy Food Packaging Act1, making Washington becomes the first state in the USA to ban perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (also known as PFAS) in paper food packaging. PFAS are industrial chemicals used in nonstick coatings on food packaging, also in stain-resistant and waterproof coatings in furniture and clothing.

Effective 1 January 2022, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of food packaging containing intentionally added PFAS is prohibited from the market. Per the Act, food package means a package or its component with direct food contact which is made of paper, paperboard or other materials originated from plant fibers. The package also includes unsealed containers such as carrying cases, crates, cups, pails, rigid foil and other trays, wrappers, bags and tubs.

If the Department of Ecology is not able to identify safer alternatives by 1 January 2020, the ban will not go into effect. The Department must review and report alternatives every year until they are found to be available. Once a safer alternative is identified, the ban will have a 2-year transition period to become effective.

After the prohibition takes effect, a certificate of compliance for food packaging should be developed and kept by the manufacturer if the packaging is still in use, and three years from the date of the last sale or distribution. Upon request, the certificate must be submitted to the Department of Ecology within 60 days. If the manufacturer is required to provide the certificate for other states, one format could be developed to contain all required information.

[1] HB 2658

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