New York Green Purchasing Specifications Will Now Avoid PFAS Chemicals in Food Service Items

Advocates Applaud New York's Leadership -
Over 40 Organizations supported specification, which also limits polystyrene

(Albany, NY - April 20, 2018) In response to the approval of Procurement Specification Amendments for Food Service Containers and Packaging by the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement, Clean and Healthy New York has issued the following statement:

There is mounting evidence of the presence of PFAS in food service products, and increasing purchaser demand for healthier food ware products. New York's leadership will help propel efforts by leading manufacturers to find less-toxic alternatives, shift the market to those better alternatives and accelerate the broader national market change we need.

Support for these specifications came from 40 national and state organizations. In addition to Clean and Healthy New York, organizations that signed on in support of these amendment’s included: 

 

In New York: Capital District Child Care Council, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Early Care and Learning Council, Environmental Advocates of New York, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, Green Inside and Out Consulting, Healthy Schools Network, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Huntington CALM, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, Neighborhood Network, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapters 1, 2 & 3, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York State United Teachers, New York Sustainable Business Council, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.   

Organizations from other states and national organizations, including: Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments,  American Sustainable Business Council, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Food Safety, Washington DC, Clean Production Action, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT, Coming Clean Collaborative, Ecology Center, Minnesota Clean Water Action, Healthy Legacy, Earthjustice, Environmental Strategy Center, ME, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Informed Green Solutions, Made Safe, SAFERStates, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families,  Toxic-Free Future, Vermont Conservation Voters, Women’s Voices for the Earth 

We appreciate New York State’s attention to this serious subject. We applaud the notion that the State should be "avoiding the use of PFCs in food service containers and packaging" to "help to reduce human exposure and potential sources of PFCs in the environment." 

 

We also applaud the State for denouncing the use of food service containers made with polystyrene and encouraging the use of biodegradable replacements. 

Long Island-based Emerald Brand, a packaging company whose mission is to combat climate change by providing products and solutions that help prevent deforestation, eliminate fossil fuel based plastics, reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions and avoid harmful chemicals and additives, also commented in favor of the specification. 

The chemical industry trade association American Chemistry Council, representing themselves and the FluoroCouncil, was the only opponent to the health-protective procurement specification present at today's Interagency Committee meeting.
 

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About the chemicals:
Although PFOS and PFOA have been largely phased out in the U.S. due to concerns about their toxicity, it is be important to note in the development of this specification that they have often been replaced by less well known short-chain “chemical cousins” (that are structurally similar) which are also fluorinated. There are data gaps and credibility gaps to claims that these substitutes are not harmful. They are structurally similar, and have similar environmental and health impacts.  Additionally, PFOS and PFOA long-chain compounds are also still being used in products made in other countries, including many that are imported into the United States.

There are readily available, safer, cost- and performance-effective alternatives to food service ware and food packaging that do not contain PFAS. It is possible to find products that meet both compostable and PFAS-free criteria that would be suitable for a food service environment.

 

Learn more about PFAS chemicals in New York's water: https://www.ewg.org/research/update-mapping-expanding-pfas-crisis#.WtpngojwaM9

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