How do I comply with PFAS regulations?
PFAS, renowned for their exceptional properties like heat, water, and oil resistance, have found extensive applications in industrial and consumer products. Earning the moniker 'forever chemicals' due to their environmental persistence, governments worldwide are proposing to ban the use and production of PFAS in order to reduce the risks these substances pose to humans and the environment. Complying with emerging PFAS regulations presents complexity and challenges. However, companies can proactively navigate the landscape through following five key steps.
Five steps on how to prepare for new PFAS restrictions
1. Know your products, manufacturing processes and supply chains
A full characterisation of product composition will be required for manufactured and imported substances, as well as mixtures and articles, to enable and demonstrate compliance with new restrictions. Intimate knowledge of products and production processes, including those of suppliers, in addition to an understanding of where and how inadvertent contamination might occur in the supply chain is essential.
2. Obtain the right expert input
Determining whether PFAS are present in a product is a challenging task as it requires intimate knowledge of potentially thousands of chemicals. Guidance is likely to be needed to help identify the scope of impacted substances, especially when the restriction does not indicate specific substance identifiers. The challenge is compounded by the fact that suppliers won’t always be able to supply the necessary information in a reliable or timely way; and that supply chains may span different countries. Specialist expertise in PFAS chemistry, analytical data, product composition, and regulations is critical in identifying PFAS. A company-wide effort involving procurement, quality, and operations is also necessary to manage the issue effectively.
3. Develop a robust testing strategy
Testing of products for PFASs may be necessary to prove that trace amounts do not exceed certain levels or to demonstrate the absence of these chemicals. Developing a robust testing strategy with expert guidance will be necessary to evaluate products for the full spectrum of PFASs.
4. Engage thoughtfully in public consultation
While there’s no guarantee of success, contributing to the consultation on the new PFAS restrictions can be valuable as authorities take note of feedback from stakeholders. The EU’s six month consultation for the new restriction proposal closes on 25 September 2023, so it’s important to engage early. Providing thoughtful and evidenced feedback during the consultation process can pay off, as seen in the past with C9-14 PFCAs.
5. Keep appraised
Further PFAS regulations in countries outside the EU will have a significant impact on import, manufacture and use in global markets. The US, Canada, and Great Britain are already considering their own restrictions on PFAS, and more could follow. To stay up-to-date with these regulations, stakeholders need to keep an eye on multiple channels at international, regional, and national levels.