Proposed PFAS Group Restriction
In February 2023, a proposed PFAS Group restriction was issued by EU REACH. The Group designation includes fluoropolymers used in non-stick coatings within the industrial bakeware and food preparation industries. Fluoropolymers are currently classed as polymers of low-concern under OECD definitions but the proposed restrictions would implement a full ban on all PFAS including fluoropolymers used in coated bakeware and food preparation products.
The proposed restriction would ban the manufacture, use and/or marketing of PFAS in products or as items in mixtures. The limits on PFAS concentration would range between 25ppb and 50ppm and fluoropolymers will exceed the 50ppm limit. Both the intentional and unintentional use of PFAS would be included in these limits.
So, what does this mean? The restriction proposal marks the beginning of a process which will take 2-3 years or longer. Following this process, if enforced, fluoropolymers could be banned from bakeware and food preparation products after an 18 month transition period. There is a potential 5 year derogation period (temporary exemption) after this initial 18 months. However, this has not been confirmed and will be dependent on information and evidence submitted during the public consultation period for ECHA Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and Socio-Economic Assessment Committee (SEAC) consideration. There will still be a full ban in place when this derogation period ends if it is granted.
Trade associations are recommending manufacturers of industrial bakeware and food preparation products to provide their input to the public consultation for RAC and SEAC to consider that fluoropolymers be exempted from the proposed ban as they are of low-concern. The portal is live until 25th September 2023 and can be accessed on the ECHA website using the following link: https://comments.echa.europa.eu/comments_cms/AnnexXVRestrictionDossier.aspx?RObjectId=0b0236e1885e69de
When submitting input, trade associations have suggested covering the following points; the types, uses, performance and functions of the fluoropolymers currently used, the availability and suitability of alternative materials and any negative impacts for your business and customers if the ban on fluoropolymers is enforced. They have also advised that earlier inputs will have more influence so it important to register your submission as early as possible.
On a positive note, the UK HSE have recently released their RMOA regarding PFAS and it appears as though for the UK, low-risk substances such as fluoropolymers can continue to be included within products that are used within the UK. Of course, this will not apply for products destined for the EU.
For more information on the EU REACH Restriction Proposal and it’s related documents, visit the ECHA website using the following link: https://echa.europa.eu/restrictions-under-consideration/-/substance-rev/72301/term