US Composting Council calls to ban PFAS

The council notes the negative impact of PFAS on compost manufacturers.

government regulations

Image courtesy James Group Studios Inc

The US Composting Council (USCC), Raleigh, North Carolina, is calling for bans on the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and research to study their impact on plant uptake.

The USCC notes the negative impact of PFAS, used historically in everyday materials like cookware, cosmetics, packaging and outdoor clothing, has on compost manufacturers. The statement says the composting industry is the passive receiver of the chemicals through the products brought into facilities through food scrap, biosolids and green material.

"Products containing PFAS and similar chemical makeup of products, must be removed from circulation,” says Frank Franciosi, executive director of the USCC. “We support [the] immediate need for government peer-reviewed research to determine scientifically based levels of harm of PFAS in soil."

Franciosi adds that research is needed for the compost industry to take the right actions to mitigate any proven harmful impacts.

PFAS and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) have become ubiquitous in the environment. These compounds break down slower than other chemicals, and trace amounts now exist throughout the environment and in the public's bloodstream, according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group based in Washington.  

The USCC’s statement also cautions regulators at state and federal levels that 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 material disposed of in landfills and incinerators; and  

  • halting and reversal of the contributions made by the composting industry to soil health, water quality and climate.  

The USCC says composting is one of the most important ways to mitigate climate change. It can also clean and remediate stormwater and contaminated soils, increase organic matter and beneficial microbes in soils and regenerate soils for farming.

The USCC recommends bans on intentionally added PFAS in food service packaging or other feedstocks and reasonable regulation of PFAS chemicals at their source. It also supports new packaging or other feedstocks that eliminate PFAS inclusion in their production.

Additionally, the USCC is advocating that the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency provide grant research funding to scientifically document the plant uptake properties of PFAS, if any, in compost. The council says the research should look at the runoff and migration of PFAS from compost-amended soils.

To view the list of policy recommendations, click here.

Share This Content