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2024 PFAS Takeout Container Ban: What to Expect

Did you know that a ban on the sale and use of food packaging that includes PFAS came into effect on January 1, 2023 in California, New York, and Washington? This also included new requirements for chemical disclosure in cookware. Vermont and Hawaii joined in July, and now four more states are implementing PFAS bans on January 1, 2024: Colorado, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota.

PFAS, found in food packaging and other products, has been found to be a key contaminant of drinking water sources across the country. This has been happening for years and as a result, there is PFAS everywhere in the environment where it will not break down for a very long time.

PFAS Bans by State

Many states already have PFAS Bans in place, and more will be joining in January 2024. The table below includes the state, the date the PFAS ban takes effect and the regulation.

State Date of effect Regulation
California Jan 1, 2023 Assembly Bill 1200
Washington Jan 1, 2023 RCW 70A.222.070
New York Jan 1, 2023 Hazardous Packaging Act
Vermont July 1, 2023 Act No. 36 (S.20)
Hawaii July 1, 2023 House Bill 1644n
Colorado Jan. 1, 2024 House Bill 22-1345
Rhode Island Jan. 1, 2024 S.2044/H.7438
Maryland Jan. 1, 2024 Senate Bill 273
Minnesota Jan. 1, 2024 S.F. No. 20

It's important to keep in mind that these are bans on "intentionally added PFAS" since most materials contain at least small trace amounts of PFAS. For a product to have no intentionally added PFAS it must contain no more than 100 parts per million of PFAS.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds. These compounds have been used in the manufacturing of consumer goods since the 1940s. It's a large group of compounds that are widely used across many industries.

Also known as "Forever chemicals", due to the wide long-term use of PFAS there are microplastics found in the products we use daily, the food we eat, and the water we drink. PFAS are so prominent that traces can even be found within our blood.

Due to their combination of hydrophobic and hydrophilic qualities, these compounds are excellent at repelling water, oil, and stains. This resistance is widely desired in takeout containers, and as a result many molded fiber and paper containers, bowls and plates have a liquid-resistant barrier that contains PFAS

The full scope of the toxic legacy left by PFAS use is still not completely known. Almost every week, there are new discoveries of contamination caused by PFAS in existing communities.

If something is advertised as "stain-resistant" or "non-stick" it probably contains PFAS. Here are a few examples or products with a high chance of containing PFAS:

  • Food packaging and takeout containers
  • Nonstick cookware
  • Water-resistant coats, tents and umbrellas
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Nail Polish and makeup
  • Dental Floss

Concerns of PFAS In Takeout Containers

Concerns are growing about the widespread use of these chemicals, particularly in the takeout food packaging industry. Particularly in:

  • Molded fiber takeout containers
  • Food and burger wrappers
  • Salad bowls

As previously stated, these chemicals find their way into food, particularly in reheated food. Foods that are higher in fat, salt, or acid, increase the likelihood of PFAS transferring to the food. In fact, some evidence shows that people who eat at home more frequently may have lower blood levels of PFAS than those who eat out frequently and this is thought to be one of the reasons why.

Another concern is that PFAS is being widely introduced into the environment when used packaging is being of through composting, dumping and burning.

Environmentalists and public health advocates would like to have the use of PFAS banned completely. Since this is particularly important in food packaging several fast food restaurants, fast food takeout chains, and grocery stores have limited or plan to phase out food packaging that contains intentionally added PFAS, even before regulations come into place in their states.

The Future of Food Packaging

Alternative PFAS solutions must be studied to slow down the amount of PFAS created and used in the coming decades. PFAS substitutes need to be made of non-toxic materials for a cleaner future. This is to be food safe and environmentally beneficial.

Businesses should actively be finding PFAS replacements most for their daily needs, Check out our no-added PFAS containers. Different businesses' chemicals or coatings are often confidential. Due to market competition, many businesses don't fully reveal information.

Paper food containers sold at grocery stores and dining establishments can be verified by an independent agency to be free of intentionally added PFAS. However, they are often unaware of the substitute substances.

Be Careful of Greenwashing

It's important to be cautious of greenwashing in the food packaging industry. Simply put, greenwashing is when a company lies about minimizing its environmental impact, or makes claims that their products are eco-friendly when they aren't.

The most common approach is through deceptive marketing and advertising. Make sure you read the labels and language on your purchases, green packaging and leaf imagery might imply something is eco-friendly, but look for proof.

Watch out for misleading sustainability claims. Buy your eco-friendly containers from certified businesses selling fully compostable products - biodegradable products tend to leave microplastics behind, and aren't required to break down back to organic material like compostable products are. Look for the phrase "No added PFAS" when shopping instead of "PFAS-free" since virtually nothing in this world is 100% free of PFAS.

You can also keep an eye out for products that are BPI-Certified. They test and certify products for compostability, and one of their requirements is a very low count of PFAS in the product.

No Added PFAS Containers and Tableware

How can you tell if the containers and tableware that you're purchasing contains added PFAS? Packaging should indicate that there is no intentionally added PFAS. Also keep an eye out for products that are BPI Certified - since this guarantees a low level of PFAS content.

Another indicator that a product has no intentionally added PFAS is the color of the product. When molded fiber products are created with no added PFAS they tend to be more tan in color. This is because the majority of whiteners and brighteners contain PFAS and so aren't used.

Our collections of No Added PFAS Takeout Containers and No Added PFAS Tableware are all BPI Certified for compostability. You can be certain you're making the most eco-friendly choice (and respecting your local PFAS ban!)

Go Green for a Better Future!

Our planet is littered with billions of tons of PFAS food packaging containers. This chemical pollution is not only harmful to our health but cause irreparable harm to the environment around us.

If we want to save the earth, the future of disposables has to continue to become more environmentally friendly. Stopping PFAS use in common items like food packaging is the most effective strategy to prevent PFAS contamination of water supplies, wildlife, and human beings.

The first step is these state-wide PFAS bans, resulting in companies across the country working to reduce PFAS packaging. Now it's your turn to make the switch to No added PFAS products today!