On August 22, 2019, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch reported on a statement from U.S. restaurant chain Chipotle following release of a study finding high levels of total fluorine in their biodegradable packaging (FPF reported). In a statement to the magazine Newsweek, Chipotle said that “as evidenced in Chipotle’s Sustainability Report, we are committed to using safe and sustainable food packaging and only partner with suppliers who make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority. These suppliers operate under strict guidelines set forth by the FDA [(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)], and have all provided Chipotle with certification that all raw material and finished pulp products fully meet regulatory requirements.”
While the study’s findings do not appear to go against any current U.S. regulations, Chemical Watch writes that increasing concern in North America regarding the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in humans and the environment is fueling criticism over use of the compounds. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) sets requirements for a certificate of compostability, and it is reported to have lowered the maximum amount of total fluorine allowed for its certification in March 2019 to 100 ppb. According to findings from the recent study on Chipotle, the restaurant’s tested packaging does not satisfy this new criterion. However, BPI’s director Rhodes Yepsen thinks that this study has supported placing unreasonable negative attention on compostable products as a whole. “There is nothing inherent connecting PFAS to compostable products, they just happened to be used in a handful of applications,” he told Chemical Watch.
Leigh Stringer (August 22, 2019). “Chipotle defends biodegradable packaging amid PFAS findings.” Chemical Watch
Janice Williams (August 6, 2019). “Chipotle and Sweetgrean bowls reportedly contain cancer-linked, non-biodegradable chemicals, report says.” Newsweek