The issue of PFAS — a group of so-called “forever” chemicals found in food packaging, personal care items and firefighting foam — is a growing concern for the waste and recycling industries. Operators of landfills, MRFs and compost sites and others considered “passive receivers” of PFAS-containing items wonder how future regulations on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances will affect their businesses and their liability.
The chemicals have been linked to health problems and appear in the blood of most humans, prompting the U.S. EPA to study the chemicals more closely and begin the process to designate certain PFAS hazardous. The EPA recently proposed limits for the chemicals in drinking water.
However, there are still major unknowns about how to safely destroy or manage the chemicals and how best to prevent new PFAS from getting into food packaging or other items. Some states are passing laws restricting the use of PFAS in packaging and restricting the options for biosolids, while some companies are voluntarily phasing the chemicals out of their products.
Below are Waste Dive’s stories on PFAS from 2022 and 2023. Find our previous coverage on the issue here.