A blanket ban on PFAS: The hidden costs of a one-size-fits-all approach

19 October 2023

What is common between your cutting-e...

What is common between your cutting-edge retina display TV, your power packed electric car, and your stylish modern refrigerator? Each relies on the use of a compound known as “per and polyfluorinated alkyl substances” or PFAS for short for production. Harking back to our chemistry classes, PFAS possess potent carbon-fluorine bonds.

These bonds are remarkably stable, rendering PFAS highly resistant to degradation. Consequently, they have found widespread use across diverse industries – from technology, aerospace, and defence, to textiles, construction, electronics, and even medical applications. These compounds bestow essential attributes, ensuring products are durable, heat-resistant, and high-performing. Everything from semiconductors and lithium batteries to household appliances and energy-efficient machinery owes their efficacy, in part, to PFAS.  

Recently, PFAS have come under scrutiny by European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Early next year, a report is expected to be released on the findings. In this context, it is imperative to emphasise two key aspects: the significant role PFAS substances play in our daily lives and the possible consequences of imposing a broad ban.  

PFAS is not a singular substance, but rather an umbrella term for a group of compounds, each with its distinct risk profile. An outright ban on PFAS without a detailed understanding of their varied applications might result in unexpected consequences for industries, economies, and the environment, jeopardising the EU Green Deal and circular economy objectives. These two points were central to the feedback Orgalim gave during ECHA's consultation earlier this year. 

Learn more: Earlier this year, the European Chemicals Agency proposed a restriction on the manufacture and use of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS. Read Orgalim’s position and recommendations on the proposed restriction here.