Better Earth Food Packaging and PFAS
Recent news has led to growing awareness, concern and confusion about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a general class of more than 5,000 chemicals that make compostable foodservice packaging grease and water-resistant.
We hear and share these concerns.
We take our responsibility as environmental stewards very seriously and will always put human health and safety, environmental standards and regulations first and foremost. We are proud to share that today our products meet or exceed the FDA’s most current regulations on PFAS, and more specifically, Better Earth does not use any of the three long-chain PFAS compounds (C8 or greater) prohibited by the FDA’s 21 code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R) Part 176.
In this post, we’d like to elaborate further on what PFAS are, how regulations are changing, and how we’re addressing this evolving challenge.
What are PFAS?
PFAS chemicals were first introduced in the 1940s because of their ability to resist heat, grease, stains and water. Today, they are ubiquitous: you can expect to find PFAS chemicals in an overwhelming variety of products ranging from nonstick cooking pans to firefighting foams, carpets, and in pizza boxes and other foodservice packaging.
We’ve differentiated the two main classes of PFAS, long chain and short chain, below:
Short Chain: A select class of PFAS substances deemed safe for food contact by the FDA after rigorous and extensive scientific testing. A robust body of scientific research demonstrates this class does not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. However, Better Earth continues to advocate for further research into the potential impacts of these chemicals and is actively phasing them out of our products in search of alternatives that meet our standards for safety and sustainability.
Long Chain: Prohibited by the FDA’s 21 code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R) Part 176 due to their potential for long-term health impacts and persistence in the environment and our bodies. Better Earth does not and will never use Long Chain PFAS.
There is now growing concern about the persistence of both short-chain and long-chain PFAS chemicals in our environment, meaning their ability to remain intact for extensive periods of time.
What’s Next and How We’re Taking Action
Starting January 1, 2020, all BPI-certified products must have less than 100 parts per million (ppm) of fluorine and cannot contain any intentionally added fluorinated chemicals.
We are working diligently across our supply chain and with industry partners to align ourselves with these new standards. This includes regular monitoring and testing, which is core to our commitment to safe and sustainable foodservice packaging. Between November 2018 and June 2019, certified third-party laboratories conducted three random PFA assessments on all of our product categories, with all results meeting and exceeding FDA requirements. In addition to exceeding these FDA requirements, we continue to collaborate with BPI and other accredited third-party organizations to ensure we remain ahead of future evolutions of PFAS regulations and standards for compostability.
Below is the most recent timeline and information for third party certification.
September 30, 2019: BPI notifies companies of test results. For passing results of less than 100 ppm, BPI coordinates with the company to ensure the statement “no fluorinated chemicals have been intentionally added” is listed on any of their BPI-certified products.
December 31, 2019: Companies to confirm that inventory with over 100 ppm will no longer be labeled or marketed as BPI-certified, and failure to comply will result in legal action.
January 1, 2020: All BPI-certified products must have less than 100 ppm of safe FDA-approved fluorine and not contain any intentionally added fluorinated chemicals. Better Earth has submitted all our independent third-party ASTM and BPI-certified lab results to BPI.
Better Earth is truly thankful for opportunities like this to further ensure our products fulfill their purpose of providing sustainable alternatives for foodservice packaging that address our insurmountable plastic pollution crisis. We will continue to work across our supply chain and with industry partners to regularly monitor fluorochemicals; research and study the science behind the chemicals; work with independent third-parties for testing of our products and processes; and make investments in new innovative technologies.
Thank you for your partnership and trust in Better Earth’s sustainable and healthy food service packaging solutions.
President & Managing Partner