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POPFREE focus area: Paper

Background

The industrial need concerning grease resistant paper is to start phasing out PFAS as repellent agent. PFAS are used to impart fat and oil repellency to the paper and maintain a certain level of permeability to water vapor. In an effort to phase out PFAS, compromises might be needed on the performance of the paper. One strategy to achieve fat and oil repellency is by using physical barriers while compromising on water vapor permeability. Alternatively, PFAS could be substituted by other chemicals such as silicones or silanes; in that case water vapor permeability might be maintained but at the expense of performances on oil and fat repellency.

There are specific requirements entering the legal frameworks starting out with a recommendation for limit values by the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (DK Food). These requirements are discussed and most likely to be applied on a European level in the near future. The Danish regulation may affect the market in the sense that not only PFAS will have to be substituted in finishing processes of papers, but also that the raw material and consumed water will have to be thoroughly analyzed for impurities from earlier treatments. This is in parity to the experiences from the initial Norwegian regulation of PFOA in textiles. In practice, both intentional and unintentional presence of PFAS may cause paper fail a test in relation to the requirements.

Challenges

  • Impurity levels of upstream processes from these sources.
  • Data gaps in information to both upstream actors and regulators on relevant levels for upcoming legislation.
  • Data gaps in technical and environmental/health performance on non-fluorinated alternatives.
  • Identification and evaluation of relevant alternatives to substitute PFAS, on lab scale and, if relevant, prototype.
  • Public awareness of PFAS free options; for instance labeling options, education material for users.

Suggested scope

Within POPFREE, alternatives in use will be assessed in depth for health and environmental as well as technical performance. Within the scope, critical criteria will be discussed, but also communication towards end customer. In addition, mapping actions up-stream involving measure of potential impurities will be important input on cause-effect chains to regulating bodies for regulating unintentional addition of PFAS.

Partners

Within POPFREE, actors aiming for phase out and actors with PFAS already substituted are engaged. Manufacturers of chemical alternatives to PFAS will collaborate with paper producers that have already phased out, or are in the process of phasing out PFAS.