APCO publishes action plan to phase out PFAS

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published the ‘Action Plan to Phase Out PFAS in Fibre-Based food Contact Packaging’. This new resource outlines a national, industry-led approach to phasing out per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in fibre-based food contact packaging by 31 December 2023.

The action plan is based on the 2021 APCO-led and Planet Ark supported study, PFAS in Fibre-based Packaging, and is designed to support businesses with the process of identifying PFAS in fibre-based food contact packaging and a pathway to phase it out. 

The action plan supports the implementation of the National PFAS Position Statement agreed to by all Australian governments in 2018 and the achievement of the 2025 National Packaging Targets, including the target for 100 per cent of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable and the phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025. 

The properties of PFAS, as substances resistant to heat, stains, grease and water, make it useful for a range of applications, including some food contact packaging. When used in compostable packaging, PFAS poses specific challenges to organic waste streams.

APCO said this action plan will help ensure that the presence of PFAS does not become a barrier to realising the potential of compostable food contact packaging to support the greater recovery of food waste.

The action plan includes:

  • A guide on how to test for total organic fluorine (TOF) which is indicative of PFAS
  • A step-by-step outline of how to report on the PFAS present in fibre-based food contact packaging
  • Considerations for selecting alternatives.

APCO CEO Chris Foley said, “The release of the PFAS Action Plan highlights our commitment as an industry to understand the knowledge gaps around substances like PFAS and to come up with collaborative solutions.

“For the phase out of PFAS to be successful, industry support is critical to encourage businesses to adopt the framework outlined in the action plan and ensure they have access to the information they need in identifying the presence of PFAS in their products and a pathway to successfully phase them out.”

APCO said is looking to explore opportunities to address the challenges around recycled content and PFAS to understand where complexities and irregularities exist and continue engagement with governments and industry on future actions. 

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