Article By RJ Bianculli, Managing Director, Emerald Brand
As new legislation further restricting PFAS concentrations in food service products takes effect in New York and California, the time has come to consider the kinds of products you use in your kitchens.
PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals used in a variety of industries to heat, stain, water and grease-proof different materials, and include the well-known nonstick applicant Teflon.
The sheer versatility of PFASs means that the substances appear in many different commonly used household items including raincoats, umbrellas, shampoos, paints, and in the restaurant industry where it’s used as an additive in takeout containers, utensils, and other kinds of grease-resistant food wrappers. Considered ‘forever chemicals,’ PFASs pose a threat to the cleanliness of the environment and to human health, as studies have linked increased exposure to higher risk of elevated cholesterol levels, fetal abnormalities, kidney cancer, and asthma.
A staple of the food packaging industry since the 1940s, PFASs are most present in nonstick cookware, such as pots and pants, and in the molded fibers that give shape to those trademark clamshell take-out containers. While the amount present in molded fibers is relatively low at around 300-500 parts per million (ppm), the new bans instated by the states of New York and California, the two biggest commerce markets in the country, restrict PFAS concentrations to 100 ppm. So how can you best avoid these potentially harmful molecules?
Start with your supplier. Whether you procure your packaging products from a manufacturer or a distributor makes no difference – ensuring your supplier is compliant with the new restrictions can remove the liability from your business. These people are at the helm of the production process and are therefore the most knowledgeable about what goes into their products. In general, it’s best to avoid consulting sales representatives or product line brokers, who are often responsible for promoting a number of different lines and probably lack much in-depth knowledge of whether their products are PFAS-compliant – they’re the jacks of all trades, masters of none, if you will. Expertise is, and always be, very important, especially as you dig into the nitty-gritty of these restrictive pieces of legislation. Manufacturers are the last line of employees working hands-on with these products – they’re heavily involved in R&D, production, and product development. Most importantly: ask for a program that is completely PFASs free across the board.
With increasing concern about the detriment of PFASs to human and environmental health, we launched our own line of PFAS-free packaging and food service products. Having been in the industry for over 16 years alongside my father, who’s worked in packaging now for more than 40 years, we’ve noticed a lack of young talent and people who really understand sustainability, health, and wellness, and their roles in the packaging industry. We recently hosted a webinar delving into the new restrictions and how to make sure your business is in compliance with the new legislation, and it was a huge success. With hundreds of representatives and business owners present, it was clear that PFAS-exposure reduction is a primary concern to many restaurateurs and packaging executives. Now – more than ever – is the time to take a look at how the products you use could be impacting your health, and our line of Emerald Brand products achieves that goal.
The Emerald Brand line now contains no intentionally-added PFASs, which is an important distinction to make because due to the ubiquity of the chemical family, so many products and product components contain PFASs to some degree, albeit exceptionally minimal. Our production and R+D team have spent years working with our partners to create a line of products that is compliant with the 100 ppm PFAS restriction, and is in the BPI testing process to be BPI compostable approved.
Incorporating our outstanding line of products and taking your first step towards being PFAS-free is incredibly easy and cost-effective. Despite using an innovative formula, the Emerald Brands product line represents no additional cost or price hike to any business – priced competitively, our PFAS-free product line is meant to be a one-to-one replacement for products currently in use that contain higher levels of the chemical family. Moreover, adoption of the line into your restaurant or foodservice operation won’t compromise product quality. Really, it’s a triple threat: you’re guaranteeing extra health benefits to your employees and customer base, looking out for the environment, and making no sacrifice to your bottom line.
There’s never been a better – or easier – time to take a serious look at the products you use and whether they contain inadvisably high levels of the harmful PFAS chemical family. While these chemicals permeate almost every level of everyday life, thanks to our Emerald Brands product line, taking precautions has never been easier. With high quality, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly solutions to complying with the new PFAS restrictions in the states of New York and California, Emerald Brands reaffirms your commitment to the health of your employees and customer base.