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Press Statement

Rhode Island Governor Signs into Law Notable Ban on Toxic PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging

The ban points towards better solutions by requiring substitutes to be less hazardous and addresses PFAS in the production process

Health advocates nationwide applaud the move and anticipate more government policies to follow

PORTLAND, OR⸺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 as release agents in production if they end up in food packaging. Rhode Island’s policy will also restrict PFAS and heavy metals in recycled content food packaging starting in July 2027.

Health and environmental advocacy organizations from Rhode Island and states across the country applaud this move and anticipate more government policies to follow. Clean Water Action and Safer States released the following statements in response to this news.

“After years of advocacy, we’re excited to see this bill finally become law,” said Jed Thorp, state director, Clean Water Action Rhode Island. “Legislators heard from thousands of constituents about why PFAS have no place in food packaging, which made the difference in getting the bill passed.”

“Rhode Island is leading the nation toward non-toxic food packaging” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “Demonstrating once again the power of state leadership. I anticipate other states to follow this lead.”


Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. PFAS has been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment.

State governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME and WA have given state agencies authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Eleven states including CA, CO, CT, HI, ME, MD, MN, NY, RI, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Five states including CA, CO, ME, MD and VT have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs, and fabric treatments. CO adopted restrictions on indoor and outdoor furniture as well as oil and gas products. With new legislation adopted this year, WA will be evaluating safer alternatives for PFAS in other products such as apparel and firefighter turnout gear with a timeline of adopting restrictions by 2025. CA, CO, and MD are taking action to eliminate PFAS in cosmetics. Eleven states including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, ME, MD, NH, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Retailers are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to reduce or eliminate PFAS in key product sectors such as food packaging and textiles, according to recent commitments shared by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program.


Clean Water Action’s mission is to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life. CWA organizes strong grassroots groups and coalitions, and campaigns to elect environmental candidates and to solve environmental and community problems.


Safer States is an alliance of diverse environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation committed to building a healthier world. By harnessing place-based power, the alliance works to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals and sparks innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.



Stephanie Stohler

Safer States

[email protected]

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