As the compliance world moves toward tighter restrictions in chemicals reporting, new requirements are being introduced with increased frequency. One major change on the horizon are new PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) restrictions. These chemicals, known as “forever chemicals,” are frequently found in everyday consumer products, and they are becoming a focus of chemical reporting requirements around the world.
Now is the time to survey your supply chain to determine the presence of PFAS in your products and make a plan for adapting to these new requirements. Whether you are in the European Union or the United State, PFAS will quickly become something you cannot afford to ignore.
What are PFAS?
PFAS contain a carbon to fluorine bond, which is one of the strongest chemical bonds. These hard-to-break bonds are useful in so many products — from non-stick coating on pans to spill-resistant fabric to foam used in fire extinguishers — because they give products a resistance to environmental degradation.
But the strength and resistance of these chemical bonds also means that they can have high levels of bioaccumulation. And when the PFAS are toxic, this can be potentially hazardous for human health and the environment.
What to Expect in the European Union
PFAS restrictions in the EU are already underway, with the EU restricting 200 PFAS beginning in February 2023. Several EU countries, however, are pushing for even stricter restrictions, proposing a ban on approximately 6,000 different PFAS. A full decision from the EU is expected sometime in July 2022, and any new restrictions would go into effect sometime after that, possibly in 2025.
This means that the restrictions will likely be extensive, impacting countless products and creating supply chain disruptions as companies scramble to find replacements. Some industry experts are concerned about what these restrictions will mean, as PFAS can be difficult to replace in products.
Regardless, PFAS restrictions are gaining momentum, so suppliers and manufacturers should begin preparing now to keep their products on EU markets without disruption.
What to Expect in the United States
The United States has also begun to consider new PFAS restrictions recently. In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been busy addressing the potential risks of PFAS.
In April 2021, the US EPA established a Council on PFAS in order to develop strategies for researching and regulating the use of PFAS. And in October 2021, the EPA announced it will be developing a PFAS testing strategy under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
While the timeline for when PFAS regulations in the United States will go into effect is uncertain, companies that begin preparing now will be ahead of the game when it comes to new regulations.
Preparing for New PFAS Restrictions
At this point, PFAS restrictions in both the EU and US seem inevitable. The only question is when exactly these requirements will go into effect. Companies will need to remain forward looking to meet these new challenges. Waiting until the restrictions go into effect will leave companies scrambling, risking supply chain disruptions, and causing products to lose access to the market.
The first step in preparing for these new PFAS restrictions is to find the PFAS in your supply chain. Communicate with your suppliers as soon as possible to understand the PFAS that might be in your products.
Then begin preparing your supply chain to avoid disruptions. Start seeking out replacement substances now so that when restrictions go into effect you already have an effecting strategy in place. Restrictions are only going to get stronger moving forward as concern for environmental bioaccumulation of PFAS grows. Companies that keep their eye on the horizon will be ready to meet these challenges without risking profits.
Get Support from Tetra Tech
If you need support in identifying PFAS in your supply chain or preparing for these potential new regulations, reach out the Tetra Tech’s compliance experts. We can help you strengthen your compliance program and develop systems that can adapt to new regulations effectively.