The US Composting Council, on behalf of an industry facing detrimental economic impacts from per- fluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS) found in all consumer products, is calling for bans on use of the chemicals and immediate research to study their impacts on plant uptake. The document notes the negative impact of PFAS, used historically in everyday materials, such as cookware, cosmetics, packaging, and outdoor clothing, has on compost manufacturers. Our industry is the passive receiver of the chemicals through the products brought into facilities through food waste, biosolids and to a lesser extent, green waste.
“Products containing PFAS and similar chemical make-up of products, must be removed from circulation. We support immediate need for government peer reviewed research to determine scientifically based levels of harm of PFAS in soil”. These research impacts are needed for the compost industry to take the right actions to mitigate any proven harmful impacts., said Frank Franciosi executive director of the USCC.
The synthetic chemical compounds known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) (perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS) have become ubiquitous in the environment. Certain PFAS/PFOS chemicals are considered more harmful than others and are no longer manufactured in the United States. Many others are still imported or manufactured and are used in products still sold.
The USCC’s statement also cautions regulators at state and federal levels that this scientific research is critical before regulations are put forward. Legislation and regulation aimed at curbing PFAS/PFOS could significantly jeopardize the composting industry resulting in:
- Job losses at thousands of public and private composting operations throughout the country.
- Increase in the amount of organic waste being disposed of in landfills and incinerators.
- Halting and reversal of the contributions made by the composting industry to soil health, water quality and climate.
Composting is a growing industry and with that growth will come even greater benefits. The benefits the industry brings should not be jeopardized by the adoption of extremely low regulatory limits for soil PFAS unless backed up by research and science. Using compost is one of the most important ways to mitigate climate change, clean and, remediate stormwater and contaminated soils, increase organic matter, and beneficial microbes in soils, and to regenerate soils to grow food that is good for human health.