Microplastics? How about PFCs accumulating in every living being?
While recently we all got concerned about microplastics that have been detected even in our bottled water there is very little talk about a phenomenon that has been around for many years and has contaminated about every living being: perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). These chemicals are typically being used in applications where you want to make surfaces more resistant to stains, grease and water. Amongst others, these chemicals can be found on e.g. food wraps, sandwich or pastry wrappers, fried food containers and pizza boxes. But the foods served in those papers pick up the chemicals, and are consumed together with the food. PFCs, however, are extraordinarily persistent in the environment and bioaccumulate in the human body and wildlife worldwide. It has even been reported that certain PFCs potentially lead to testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol .
A lot has been written in the past on this topic but we would like to make another point. We have identified sustainable alternatives for grease and water barriers in food applications that are commercially available at scale. However, so far the market adoption has been low. Quite often this is linked to the fact that the sustainable solution is somewhat more expensive. However, we analyzed the cost impact of switching from a PFC based coating to a more sustainable alternative and we are talking about a few cents per pizzabox. So what is stopping food giants, who are claiming in their corporate social responsibility reports and their branding they care about their customers and the world, from pushing for a change? Are there any open challenges that are not met by the alternatives?
We are curious to know. Feel free to share your thoughts!