|This is a short summary on how to use the information in “CEH’s Database of Single-use Food Serviceware Products Tested For Fluorinated Additives.” |
Single-use food containers are often treated with chemicals known as PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to make them water and grease resistant, but these chemicals are harmful to our health and should be avoided. You can help drive PFAS out of the market and spur manufacturers to produce safer alternatives by asking for and purchasing products that do not contain PFAS.
For more background information about PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) chemicals and why we are concerned about them - especially their use in single-use food serviceware, please see CEH’s report, “Avoiding Hidden Hazards: A Purchaser’s Guide to Safer Foodware” and other resources at www.ceh.org/foodware.
|About this Database|
|This database is designed to help purchasers identify non-fluorinated foodware products and avoid products that likely contain PFAS. It contains single-use foodware products (e.g., bagasse plates, paper bowls, PLA utensils, etc.) that CEH has tested for fluorinated compounds via third-party laboratories.|
Because the class of PFAS contains thousands of chemicals, we perform a total fluorine test to screen each product for the likely presence of PFAS chemicals. This is a common method to test for the likely presence of PFAS without testing for each chemical individually.
We continually acquire new products and update our database with product information and test results every few months.
|How do I use it?|
|• The database is organized by product type (Plates, Bowls, Take-Out, etc.) and by fluorine content (F vs. No/Low F).|
• Use the tabs at the bottom of the screen to navigate between product types.
• Products marked as “Low/No F” have been tested and contain no/low-levels of fluorine, while products marked “F” contain levels of fluorine above 100 ppm (parts per million).
• To search for a specific product by its name, SKU or product number, you can use the built-in “Find” feature by pressing ctrl + F (PC) or cmd + F (Mac) on your keyboard.
|How does CEH’s database differ from the information provided by BPI and CMA?|
How should I use this database in conjunction with those resources?
|CEH’s database includes many products that have not been certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or the Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA) for compostability. |
While BPI and CMA both restrict the use of PFAS to receive their certification of compostability or approval for commercial or industrial composting facilities, many products on the market are not tested by either organization. This database can be used to see if your current food service ware contains PFAS, help you avoid options that contain PFAS, and to identify non-certified alternatives that are likely PFAS-free.
CEH recommends that purchasers who are interested in compostable, PFAS-free food serviceware should procure BPI-certified or CMA Composter-Approved products when possible. Food serviceware that is BPI-certified or CMA Composter-Approved do not contain intentionally-added PFAS (<100 ppm total fluorine). (See more information below under FAQs about BPI and CMA).
Note: If you plan to buy compostable food service ware, in addition to finding certified products, you must also ensure they will be accepted at your local composting facility. Contact your local composting facility to confirm.
For the products we’ve tested, we include the certification status for both BPI and CMA in case your organization’s procurement policies require one of these standards for compostability.
|How are products tested?|
|When we receive samples of foodware products, we prepare the samples and then mail them to a commercial, third-party laboratory to be tested for total fluorine. For more information, please see the Test Methods tab.|
|Where do you get your products to test?|
|Our product samples are purchased directly by CEH from manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and stores, or sent to us by institutional purchasers, foodware manufacturers, government agencies, and others.|
|Why don’t you test every product in a product line?|
|We don’t often test entire product lines (e.g, different sized plates under the same product line) because the individual products are generally made from the same material and use the same manufacturing processes. The test results from one or two of those products can often serve as an indicator of whether the whole line contains fluorinated substances.|
|The database does not have information on a product that I’m interested in, what should I do?|
|If you have a product that you think we should test, please contact email@example.com|
|What is BPI/BPI-Certified?|
|The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) is a third-party certification organization that independently tests products in North America for their compostability.|
|As of Jan. 1, 2020, BPI banned the intentional addition of PFAS, and requires testing of all products for fluorine content as part of the certification process. Products that contain more than 100 parts per million of fluorine are ineligible for certification.|
|For more information, please visit their website.|
|What is CMA/Composter-Approved?|
|The Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA) is an organization that provides field tests for compostable products to ensure they break down as intended at commercial composting facilities. |
Composter-Approved refers to CMA’s field testing program that ensures a given product has passed all of CMA’s tests and can successfully disintegrate in a commercial composting facility
|Effective Jan. 1, 2020, CMA does not perform field tests for products that contain more than 100 ppm of fluorine and/or any intentionally added fluorine.|
|Effective Jan. 1, 2021, any items containing total fluorine more than 100 ppm of fluorine, or items that are not verified by a third party to contain less than 100 ppm total fluorine, were removed from all CMA lists.|
|Can I compost foodware at home or in a school compost pile?|
|Most foodware is designed to biodegrade in a commercial composting facility where specialized procedures and equipment are used to break down the products in a matter of weeks. In a backyard compost pile, foodware likely won't adequately biodegrade in a reasonable amount of time.|
|What happens to compostable foodware that isn’t composted?|
|Recycling facilities are generally unable to process any waste that is contaminated with food, and used compostable foodware almost always has food stuck to it or is saturated with grease. When contaminated batches of recyclables are identified (if they contain used foodware), they are redirected to landfills.|
|When compostable foodware is sent to a landfill, it breaks down through the process of anaerobic decomposition due to the lack of oxygen present in the waste piles. This process decomposes the foodware very slowly and produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas that has more than 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide.|
|Ensuring that your compostables are properly sorted and taken to a commercial composting facility after their use is just as important as purchasing them in the first place.|