Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17554424 PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals. Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Most UK waste still ends up in landfill, and this includes PFAS-containing products. Studies have shown that the liquid coming from landfills (known as leachate) often contain non-polymer PFAS chemicals. In the USA the total quantities were estimated at 563-638 kg in 2013. To properly break down PFAS chemicals high temperature (1000oC or more) incineration is recommended. Incineration of municipal waste does not necessarily reach these temperatures (min temp. required is 850oC), and the incomplete breakdown could release non-polymer PFAS.Wash and wear of clothing that contains PFAS-based stain-resistant or water repellent finishes release PFAS to the environment. Coatings are thought to lose effectiveness after 20-30 washes. This can include non-polymer PFAS, remnant from production or as a break-down product of side-chain polymers (Lassen et al. 2015). The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes releases PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. PFAS are very hard to remove during water treatment. Industrial emissions are estimated to be the biggest source of these chemicals to the environment.

PFAS-free Food Packaging

Over the last few years, Fidra have been in touch with numerous retailers, food outlets and consumer brands about the need to remove harmful forever chemicals from our food packaging. Below we’ve collated all the information we’ve gathered so you can see who is committed to PFAS-free food packaging!

UK Supermarkets

In February 2021, we delivered our petition containing almost 12,000 signatures to the CEO’s of Aldi, ASDA, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, urging them to remove PFAS from UK food packaging. Since then, many have gotten in touch with us to carry on the conversation and we’re delighted to see some exciting steps being taken towards removing these ‘forever chemicals’ from our food aisles!

Here’s what they said!

Supermarket
  • Aldi

    Aldi
  • Asda

    Asda
  • Co-op

    Co-op
  • Iceland

    Iceland
  • Lidl

    Lidl
  • Morrisons

    Morrisons
  • M&S

    M&S
  • Tesco

    Tesco
  • Sainsbury's

    Sainsbury's
  • Waitrose

    Waitrose
PFAS in food packaging*
$20 / month
  • Aldi

    Yes
  • Asda

    Yes
  • Co-op

    Yes
  • Iceland

    Not in own brand products
  • Lidl

    Yes
  • Morrisons

    Yes
  • M&S

    Yes
  • Tesco

    Yes
  • Sainsbury's

    Yes
  • Waitrose

    Unknown
Commitment to PFAS-free food packaging?
$20 / month
  • Aldi

    Engaging with supply chain; no known action to reduce PFAS use
  • Asda

    No known action
  • Co-op

    Taking action to remove PFAS; yet to confirm commitment in policy
  • Iceland

    Own brand products are PFAS free, no policy commitment
  • Lidl

    No known action
  • Morrisons

    Committed to removing PFAS from own brand food packaging by the end of 2021
  • M&S

    Taking action to remove PFAS; yet to confirm commitment in policy
  • Tesco

    Taking action to remove PFAS; yet to confirm commitment in policy
  • Sainsbury's

    No known action
  • Waitrose

    No known action
Further information / Retailer statement
$20 / month
  • Aldi

    Actively engaging with supply chain to understand awareness and policies in this area. Intend to continue investigation over the coming months and to consider how/if PFAS data can be accurately collected from suppliers.
  • Asda

    -
  • Co-op

    "Co-op is committed to creating own-brand products with quality, sustainability and health in front of mind. This involves ensuring that our packaging is created in the most responsible way possible. Co-op is actively discussing how to remove PFAS from the very small number of own-brand products affected."
  • Iceland

    Have reviewed product packaging and believe no PFAS currently used in own brand products. Core product categories likely to contain PFAS, e.g. oily products often requiring high grease resistance are not part of the Iceland own label product range.
  • Lidl

    Set own standards specifically for PFAS, vetting throughout tenders. However, Fidra has no information on what standards are currently set.
  • Morrisons

    "Recognising the concerns of our wider stakeholders, we amended our packaging policy for own brand suppliers to require the removal of PFAS from food packaging by the end of 2021. Following this change, where we have identified product packaging which incorporates PFAS we are also actively working with suppliers of those products to remove it."
  • M&S

    Currently undergoing trials, anticipating PFAS will be removed from food packaging by end 2021.
  • Tesco

    "We’ve taken action to remove PFOS and PFOA from our food packaging, and now we are moving our focus to removing and finding alternatives to other PFAS and trialling some of those alternatives with packaging suppliers."
  • Sainsbury's

    -
  • Waitrose

    -

*Note this refers specifically to intentionally added PFAS, recognising that PFAS may enter food packaging through environmental contamination or the use of recycled materials.

Legend:

Committed to removing PFAS from food packaging by a specified date

Taking steps to reduce PFAS use

No known commitment to removing PFAS beyond regulatory requirements

Fast Food

What about fast food and restaurants? Below we’ve compiled relevant information to show you who else is talking about PFAS, and who else is taking action. 

Is your favourite takeaway covered? If not, why not get in contact with them, ask what they are doing to tackle PFAS in their food packaging and let us know what they say. Or if you represent a company you think should be listed, get in touch and let us know.

Food Outlet
  • Burger King (US)

    Burger King (US)
  • Cafe Nero

    Cafe Nero
  • Costa Coffee

    Costa Coffee
  • Greggs

    Greggs
  • KFC (US)

    KFC (US)
  • Pret a Manger

    Pret a Manger
  • Domino’s Pizza

    Domino’s Pizza
  • McDonald’s (US)

    McDonald’s (US)
  • Pizza Hut (US)

    Pizza Hut (US)
  • Starbucks

    Starbucks
  • Sweetgreen (US)

    Sweetgreen (US)
  • Taco Bell (US)

    Taco Bell (US)
PFAS in food packaging*
$20 / month
  • Burger King (US)

    Yes
  • Cafe Nero

    Yes
  • Costa Coffee

    Yes
  • Greggs

    Yes
  • KFC (US)

    Untested
  • Pret a Manger

    Yes
  • Domino’s Pizza

    Yes
  • McDonald’s (US)

    Yes
  • Pizza Hut (US)

    Untested
  • Starbucks

    Yes
  • Sweetgreen (US)

    Unknown
  • Taco Bell (US)

    Yes
Commitment to PFAS-free food packaging?
$20 / month
  • Burger King (US)

    Actively seeking alternatives to PFAS.
  • Cafe Nero

    No known action
  • Costa Coffee

    Actively seeking alternatives to PFAS.
  • Greggs

    No known action
  • KFC (US)

    No known action
  • Pret a Manger

    No known action
  • Domino’s Pizza

    No known action
  • McDonald’s (US)

    Commitment to global ban on PFAS in guest packaging materials by 2025.
  • Pizza Hut (US)

    No known action
  • Starbucks

    No known action
  • Sweetgreen (US)

    Commitment to phase out PFAS from salad bowls by 2021.
  • Taco Bell (US)

    Commitment to global ban on PFAS in consumer-facing packaging by 2025.
Statement on PFAS
$20 / month
  • Burger King (US)

    “there’s more work to be done in 2021 on this task but results have been positive, and we plan to share more details in the next few months about our packaging roadmap as it relates to PFAS.” - June, 2021
  • Cafe Nero

    -
  • Costa Coffee

    -
  • Greggs

    -
  • KFC (US)

    -
  • Pret a Manger

    -
  • Domino’s Pizza

    -
  • McDonald’s (US)

    “We’re proud to take another step in our product stewardship journey with our commitment to remove all added fluorinated compounds from our guest packaging materials globally by 2025.”
  • Pizza Hut (US)

    -
  • Starbucks

    -
  • Sweetgreen (US)

    “Our goal is to roll out this new [PFAS-free] packaging to all our restaurants nationwide by the end of 2020, at which time they’ll also be made domestically, and out of post-industrial recycled paperboard,”
  • Taco Bell (US)

    “By 2025, in Taco Bell restaurants across the globe, the brand aims to make all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable… PFAS, Phthalates and BPA will be removed from all consumer-facing packaging materials.”

*Note this refers specifically to intentionally added PFAS, recognising that PFAS may enter food packaging through environmental contamination or the use of recycled materials.

Legend:

Committed to removing PFAS from food packaging by a specified date

Taking steps to reduce PFAS use

No known commitment to removing PFAS beyond regulatory requirements