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Washington State, USA, Expands Ban on PFAS in Certain Food Packaging

SafeGuardSHardgoodsJune 08, 2022

SG 073.22

Washington state has prohibited an additional five types of food packaging derived from plant fibers. The new ban will become effective in May 2024.

In 2018, Washington state approved ESHB 2658 to prohibit perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging. According to the definitions in the law, food package means ‘a package or packaging component that is intended for direct food contact and is comprised, in substantial part, of paper, paperboard, or other materials originally derived from plant fibers.’

The law, recodified as RCW 70A.222.070, authorized the Department of Ecology (DOE) to conduct an alternative assessment and publish its findings by January 1, 2020. The ban on PFAS in food packaging was to become operative in January 2022, if the DOE determined that there were safer alternatives available for specific food packaging applications. If the DOE did not find safer alternatives for some or all categories of food packaging, it must review and report on alternatives starting January 1, 2021, and annually thereafter. The prohibition of PFAS in specific food packaging applications will become effective two years after safer alternatives are available in the findings and they have been submitted to the Legislature.

In February 2021, the DOE issued its findings to the state Legislature. The first alternatives assessment report found that safer alternatives were available for four specific applications – food boats, pizza boxes, plates and wraps, and liners

In May 2022, the DOE reported its ‘Safer Alternatives to PFAS in Food Packaging – second report to the Legislature pursuant to RCW 70A.222.070. ’ The second alternatives assessment report determined that safer alternatives are available for five specific applications – bags and sleeves, bowls, flat service ware, open-top containers and closed containers (see Table 1 below).

EntryApplicationSafer Alternative
1Bags and sleeves
Densified paper and wax-coated options
Clay-coated, polylactic acid-coated, polylactic acid foam, and reusable options
3Flat service ware
4Open-top containers
Clay-coated, densified paper, wax-coated, polylactic acid-coated, polylactic acid foam, aluminum, and reusable options
5Closed containersClay-coated, polylactic acid-coated, polylactic acid foam, and aluminum options

Table 1

Highlights of the prohibition of PFAS in the five types of food packaging in the second alternatives assessment report (entry 2) and those from the first alternatives assessment report (entry 1) are summarized in Table 2. 

Prohibition of PFAS in food packaging made, in substantial part, from paper, paperboard or other materials derived from plant fibers
EntryScopeEffective Date*
  • Food boats
  • Pizza boxes
  • Plates
  • Wraps and liners
February 2023
  • Bags and sleeves
  • Bowls
  • Flat service ware
  • Open-top containers
  • Closed containers
May 2024
*DOE expects to begin enforcing the restrictions on PFAS-containing food packaging from those dates

Table 2

SGS technical experts have extensive knowledge and testing experience in materials and articles in contact with food. They work to ensure that your products meet the appropriate regulations for food contact materials, paving the way for compliance. From overall migration tests to expert advice on emerging regulations, compliance issues and documentation review, SGS is the partner to trust. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s tested. Discover more on our website.

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