EPA Ban on Fluorinated Plastics Sparks Concerns for Supply Chains

Dec. 5, 2023
Inhance Technologies challenges EPA's directive, predicts $40 billion economic fallout

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on fluorinated plastics will disrupt supply chains across several industries that depend on the technology for packaging, said Inhance Technologies in a statement released Dec. 4.

The EPA ordered Inhance on Dec. 1 to stop producing per-and-polyfluroakyl substances, or PFAS, chemicals created in the production of its fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic containers.  

The EPA issued the ruling under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act after Inhance submitted significant new use notices for nine PFAS products. The EPA determined that three of the PFAS, which include PFOA, PFNA and PFDA. are highly toxic and present unreasonable risks that can’t be prevented other than through prohibition of manufacture.

The agency also determined that the remaining six PFAS chemicals may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment and is requiring the company to stop manufacturing these chemicals pending further testing.

Inhance produces barrier packaging, surface technologies. performance additives and a PFAS purification formulation. The company says, citing a third-party study, that the EPA’s actions could result in $40 billion of economic losses and impact more than 100,000 jobs across various supply chains.

“With a cessation of this technology, we anticipate significant and near immediate disruption across the supply chains of crop production, vaccine transportation, outdoor power equipment, fuel additives, as well as many other industries,” the company stated in a news release. “Suitable replacement technology is not available for myriad applications, and in addition, current container inventories are low due to broad supply chain destocking that has occurred over the last 18 months."

Inhance called the EPA’s actions “regulatory overreach,” stating that it has provided the agency with data demonstrating that less than five grams of these long-chain PFAS impurities are present in its packaging applications, annually, which is significantly less than other EPA-authorized uses or releases of the same PFAS in question.

"Quantitative risk assessments carried out by highly credible third-party experts show that fluorination of packaging and fuel systems do not present an unreasonable risk to the environment or human health. These risk assessments were lauded by EPA career staff as ‘robust,’” the company stated.

The EPA said Inhance has historically fluorinated up to 200 million containers annually, which is more containers than total number of U.S. households. The release of 2.2 Kg of these 9 PFAS could cause significant contamination of drinking water supplies leading to risks of adverse health effects in millions of people. 

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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