PFAs, a regulatory overview

Controversial for several years now, PFAS are a group of artificial chemical substances manufactured and used in various industries worldwide.

The OECD defines them as “fluorinated substances containing at least one fully fluorinated methyl or methylene carbon atom (without attached H/Cl/Br/I atom), meaning that with few exceptions, any chemical substance containing at least one perfluoroalkyl methyl group (-CF3) or perfluoroalkyl methylene group (-CF2-) is a PFAS.” This carbon-fluorine bond, being extremely stable, makes them degrade very slowly. Hence, PFAS are dubbed as “forever chemicals”.


Current situation overview


Recently, a mapping  has revealed the extent of pollution in Europe. They are found in groundwater (drinking water, agricultural irrigation water), surface waters (lakes, rivers, etc.), soils, eggs, our blood and our hair (found in 94% of the people tested in the study!).

Considering that the revision of the European directive (directive 2020/2184 of 12/16/2020 concerning the quality of WFD, water intended for human consumption) proposes a maximum of 500 ng/L (for all PFAs) in drinking water, and observing the levels in certain areas, particularly in Northern Europe (72 800 000 ng/L found in a groundwater sample in Zwijndrecht, Belgium), it is clear that this is an extremely alarming issue.

RTBF is not exempt from this awareness. A few months ago, a documentary project was initiated to highlight alternative solutions to the use of PFAS in food packaging. In response to the Belgian national channel’s request, Lactips stepped forward.


Legislative Developments


In France, a bill aims to ban PFAS in cosmetics, clothing textiles, and ski waxes, then in all textiles by 2030. It was passed in the first reading in the National Assembly on April 5th. Many still regret the lack of ambition because not all products are targeted.

As a reminder, in 2022, a bill aimed to ban the addition of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances in food packaging and containers, kitchen utensils, technological auxiliaries, toys, childcare articles, baby diapers, and intimate hygiene protection products as of 2025.

Furthermore, five European countries (Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden) have proposed a complete ban on all types of PFAs.

At the EU level, for now, the ban would cover PFAS in food contact materials (PPWR) by 2026.


In the US, there are also movements: On February 28th, the FDA announced that PFAS used in grease-resistant agents for food packaging are no longer sold in the United States.


Solutions exist


To address this urgent health and environmental issue while aligning with future regulations, LACTIPS has been working for 10 years to combat microplastic pollution. It now offers a concrete solution to the PFAS issue in the paper food packaging sector through the development of a coating that substitutes for the use of PFAS.

PFAS, long favored by industries for their excellent technical properties, no longer fit the current context due to their environmental toxicity and impact on human health.


A similar future for microplastics?