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Washington has approved measures to regulate perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) in food contact materials and articles. The operative date of January 1, 2022 is subject to the availability of safer alternatives.

SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 042/18

SafeGuardS pop corn

On March 21, 2018, the governor of the US state of Washington signed a proposal, ESHB 2658 [1], into law to regulate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS chemicals, in food contact materials and articles. The new law will amend and create a new Chapter under Chapter 70.95G RCW ‘Packages Containing Metals’ [2].

According to the definitions in the new measures, ‘perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances’ or ‘PFAS chemicals’ are a family of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.

PFAS chemicals are a diverse family of synthetic substances that are used in the manufacture of everyday products with stain resistance, water repelling, anti-grease, oil and/or dirt properties. These chemicals, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are known to be used in the manufacture of the following products:

  • Cosmetics
  • Fast food containers
  • Firefighting foams
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Non-stick cookware
  • Paper wrappers such as those for sandwiches and butter
  • Stain-resistant carpets and upholstered furniture
  • Waterproof apparel and equipment

ESHB 2658 (Chapter 138, Laws 2018) directs the Department of Ecology (DOE) to conduct an alternatives assessment and to publish its findings by January 1, 2020. The prohibition of PFAS chemicals in food packaging will only become effective on January 1, 2022, unless safer alternatives are available in the findings, otherwise the DOE is required to conduct further alternatives assessment starting January 1, 2021 and annually thereafter. The prohibition of PFAS chemicals will then become effective two years after findings from DOE’s reports which may indicate the availability of safer alternatives.

The new measures also require a certificate of compliance (CoC) from food packaging manufacturers certifying the food packaging products meet the requirements by the date the prohibition takes effect. Manufacturers also have responsibilities to keep the certificate of compliance (CoC) on file for as long as the package or packaging component is in use, and for three years from the date of the last sale or distribution. Certificates of compliance must be furnished to the department of ecology upon request within 60 days.

Highlights of the new measures are summarized in Table 1.

Washington State, ESHB 2658 (Chapter 138, Laws 2018), Food Packaging-Perfluorinated Chemicals
An act relating to the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging; amending RCW 70.95G.010 and 70.95G.040; and adding a new section to Chapter 70.95G RCW
Substance
Scope
Requirement
Effective Date
PFAS chemicals
Food packaging
Prohibited
January 1, 2022*

Note:

  *January 1, 2022 only becomes operative if safer alternatives are available otherwise two years after further findings on safer alternatives have been determined in DOE’s report

  Table 1

The use of (certain) PFAS chemicals is also regulated in California and the European Union (EU). California has listed PFOA and PFOS under its Proposition 65 (Prop 65) list of chemicals since November 2017 [3]. Businesses have until November 10, 2018 to provide a ‘clear and reasonable’ warning before and intentionally exposing anyone to these two chemicals. The EU regulates PFOA and PFOA-related substances under entry 68 to Annex XVII of REACH [4], a comprehensive piece of legislation for the management of chemicals and substances.

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy for PFAS in consumer products for the US and international markets.

Next step:

Stakeholders are advised to comply with the latest requirements for PFAS chemicals for Washington and international markets.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: +852 2774 7420

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