On Tuesday, July 5, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed into law a policy that bans toxic chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in all types of food packaging by 2024. In addition to becoming the 11th state to ban PFAS from food packaging, this policy requires food packaging solutions to be less hazardous and targets PFAS chemicals used in the production of food packaging, not just the food packaging material itself. Rhode Island’s policy will also restrict PFAS and heavy metals in recycled content food packaging starting in July 2027.
On Wednesday, June 8, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed into law a first-in-the-nation policy that prohibits the disposal by incineration of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that are listed in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory. This includes, but is not strictly limited to, PFAS substances that are often found in aqueous film-forming foam, otherwise known as firefighting foam. In 2020, New York adopted a similar law that banned the incineration of PFAS-containing firefighting foams at a specific facility, but Illinois is the first to issue a statewide ban on incinerating certain PFAS.
Today, the Keep Food Containers Safe From PFAS Act was passed as an amendment to the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act of 2022 on a bipartisan vote (13-9) in the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP). The amendment, which will ban the use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances) in food packaging, was offered by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) with the support of Senator Murkowski (R-AK).
Today, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a groundbreaking bipartisan bill restricting the sale of PFAS “forever chemicals” in consumer products including oil and gas products; carpets or rugs; cosmetics; fabric treatments; food packaging; juvenile products; textile furnishings; and upholstered furniture. While several states have passed legislation to restrict PFAS in certain products, Colorado is the first in the U.S. to include a prohibition on PFAS chemicals in fluids that are used in the extraction of oil and gas products. Colorado is also the first state in the country to pass a state law that explicitly bans the entire class of PFAS in cosmetics, textile furnishings and indoor and outdoor furniture.
The world is waking up to the fact that our current Throw-Away Economy is not compatible with living on a finite planet. Rather than treating people and the planet as disposable, we need to move to a New Reuse Economy where consumer products are delivered in reusable packaging made from justly produced, sustainable and non-toxic materials.
Yesterday, during its annual member meeting, REI leadership failed to commit to phasing out toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” from the products it makes and sells. The company addressed the PFAS problem during the meeting following nationwide public pressure led by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, including on its own message board. However, REI’s response did not provide new commitments nor a date or timeline towards phasing out these toxic “forever chemicals.
Today Safer States launched a new resource to help candidates understand how they can be part of the solution by promoting policies that protect communities from toxic threats and create incentives for safer materials.
Mark Hyland, Board Chair for Defend Our Health, has been an REI member since 1973. PFAS contamination is a huge problem in his home state of Maine where multi-generation dairy farms have closed forever due to this “forever chemical”. He is urging REI to step up to the plate and address PFAS in their products now rather than later.
On Monday, April 25, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Representative Dan Kildee (MI-5) introduced the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act in the House and Senate to ban firefighting foams containing “forever chemicals”— PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The bicameral legislation would prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of all firefighting foam that contain PFAS for use in training and firefighting within two years of enactment. It would also ban the use of PFAS foams at airports by October 2024.