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Two more US states to ban PFAS in food packs in 2023

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New legislation that will restrict the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) in packaging has been adopted in the US states of Vermont and Connecticut.

In Vermont, Bill S20 was signed into law by governor Phil Scott on 18 May. It will ban the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any ‘food package to which PFAS have been intentionally added [or] are present in any amount’.

The new rules will apply from 1 July 2023. One important difference from legislation targeting PFAS in other US states – such as Maine and Washington – is that there is no need to conduct assessments first to show there are viable alternatives to PFAS, before they must be withdrawn.

Bill S20 defines packaging as ‘a container providing a means of marketing, protecting, or handling a product and shall include a unit package, an intermediate package, and a shipping container.’

Similar restrictions will also apply to PFAS use in firefighting foams, rugs and carpets, and ski waxes in Vermont.

On the East Coast, the legislature of Connecticut voted unanimously on 7 June to approve new bills that would restrict use of PFAS in the state. The initial phase would see these outlawed for use in firefighting foams. This will happen from July 2021.

Consumer packaging is the second priority group to be targeted. Under Connecticut Senate Bill 926 use of food packaging ‘with any detectable amount of PFAS’, or to which PFAS have been intentionally introduced, including components; will be prohibited. The rules will be apply from 1 October 2023, and be enforced by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). To show compliance converters and component suppliers will need to prepare a certificate of compliance that can be shared with the Connecticut DEEP within 30 days of a request from the agency.

The bill was amended during the pre-vote debate to include an exemption for the ‘unintentional’ presence of PFAS in a product. The only types of packaging that are specifically excluded from the legislation is that for medical devices.

These moves against PFAS – often led by Democratic Party politicians – in individual states are occurring, even as the new President Joe Biden has shown himself to be more proactive on the issue. In addition to Washington state and Maine, New York State also has laws on the statute books to restrict the substances in food packs; similar legislation is under consideration in Massachusetts; and California is targeting PFAS via its existing Prop 65 regulation.

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*Article originally published in Smithers' Food Contact World.