Good news! Washington state is banning more food packaging laced with toxic PFAS “forever chemicals.”
Washington’s Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued a new report finding safer alternatives for five additional kinds of packaging. This will set in motion a ban to take effect in 2024 for those items. A 2021 report found safer alternatives for four packaging types, triggering a ban for next year.
Building on its previous assessment, the agency evaluated the remainder of the major takeout packaging types: bags, trays, bowls, and takeout boxes. It concluded that denser paper-, wax-, and clay-coated papers, and bio-based materials, are safer choices. Eliminating food packaging and moving to reusable food service items is also safer, with the additional benefit of reducing waste.
In its 2021 report, Ecology found safer alternatives for four types of food packaging—wraps and liners, plates, food boats, and pizza boxes. The agency analysis failed to recognize available safer alternatives for a number of other food packaging items, but the law required them to keep looking. With additional analysis and changes in the market, it found safer options for five more categories—bags/sleeves, bowls, flat serviceware (i.e. trays), and open-topped containers.
Since the 2018 adoption of Washington’s law to address PFAS in food packaging, eight additional states (CA, NY, CN, ME, MN, CO, VT, and MD) have adopted their own laws. In response to our Mind the Store campaign, 22 retailers selling food or food packaging are taking action on PFAS in food packaging at more than 140,000 stores worldwide. Even U.S.-based PFAS manufacturers have agreed to a voluntary three-year phase out for food packaging by 2024.
With so much momentum and availability of safer solutions, a federal ban is a no-brainer. The bipartisan Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act, introduced last November, bans the use of PFAS in food packaging but has not yet been taken up by Congress. Now is the time for protections to be put into place for everyone in the United States and to make sure other countries don’t make us the dumping ground for their PFAS food packaging.