PFAS in drinking straws Leading European manufacturers want government action

A study in Belgium by the University of Antwerp has found very low levels of PFAS in drinking straws (including in some paper straws), which the researchers have clearly underlined are unlikely to present a health risk. PFAS are a family of synthetic chemicals that persist and accumulate in the environment and are potentially harmful.

Well before the Belgian study, leading European paper drinking straw manufacturers and their suppliers took steps to ensure that the straws they manufacture meet the strictest European requirements regarding materials in contact with food and contain no PFAS.

360° Foodservice is the European association for packaging and related items (both single use and reusable) used for serving food and drinks safely and sustainably to millions of European consumers every day. Members of 360 Foodservice set the highest priority on product integrity and consumer safety.

Within 360° Foodservice, five paper drinking straw manufacturers (Matrix Pack, Soyez, Tembo, The Paper Straw Company & Transcend Packaging) set up a dedicated expert task force in 2020 to establish a Charter of Trust for Paper Drinking Straws. It identified the requirements for manufacturing compliant and safe paper drinking straws. The Charter of Trust was finalised in 2021 and signed not only by manufacturers but also by key component suppliers. It contains a “no PFAS” clause.

The Charter of Trust initiative was also undertaken to ensure that the market could identify high quality paper drinking straws that comply with the requirements in Europe and are safe. To this end, an internationally registered Trustmark and label is associated with the scheme.

360° Foodservice urges all participants in the paper drinking straw supply chain (raw material suppliers, manufacturers, importer-distributors, retailers and users) to affiliate to the Charter of Trust with the goal of ensuring that European consumers are guaranteed compliant and safe products always. Importer-distributors in particular need to be sure that they supply only straws that have been demonstrably proven to comply with high safety requirements, especially imports.

360° Foodservice believes that the public authorities need to step up and ensure that non-compliant products are not allowed on the market and removed immediately when they are discovered. Currently, import and market control authorities do not check compliance effectively. Furthermore, the available sanctions should be taken against those responsible for placing non-compliant products on the EU market.

While some PFAS are already banned in Europe and around the world, the EU is currently considering measures to ensure that use of thousands of other known PFAS are restricted in the future, action which 360° Foodservice fully supports because paper drinking straws and other items used to serve food and drinks should be PFAS-free.

Full statement on LinkedIn.