New Legislation to Keep Chemicals out of Compost

Who doesn’t love compost? It keeps food and unnecessary waste from entering landfills, and it nourishes our farms and gardens with a highly concentrated source of nutrients. Compost is central to our work at Tilth Alliance and we want to keep it as useful and healthy as possible. So when we found out that some compostable food packaging could contain harmful nonstick “PFAS” chemicals that don’t breakdown in the environment, we knew we needed to do something about it.

What Are PFAS Chemicals?

Two hamburgers at the counter of a street cafe, cheese and fried egg on a metal trays on the bar counter waiting to be served. Selective focus, close up. Fast food cafe cuisine. Space for text.

What are PFAS chemicals, you ask? Good question! PFAS chemicals are commonly applied to food packaging to make it grease and water resistant, and recent research has shown that those chemicals can contaminate compost when you put your food packaging in your food and yard waste. This is concerning because these chemicals last a long time in the environment, and have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system problems and even cancer. Yikes!

New Nonstick Chemicals Ban

We recently worked with Toxic-Free Future to support a bill in the Washington State Legislature to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in paper food packaging. Our legislators agreed that our food packaging should not contain toxic chemicals, and Governor Inslee signed the bill into law in March. Washington is now the first state to protect our food and compost from these chemicals! More information on the specifics of the new law is available here.

We are proud to live in the first state in the nation to ban harmful PFAS chemicals from use in food packaging and proud to have had a role in this important victory.

Compost is a vital resource for farmers and gardeners alike, and it is well-worth protecting.

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