Starbucks commits to eliminate PFAS from all US packaging by the end of 2022 and international packaging in 2023
Toxic-Free Future and its Mind the Store program applaud this commitment and urge Congress to ban PFAS in food packaging
SEATTLE, WA—On March 15, 2022, international coffee giant Starbucks announcement its first-ever commitment to eliminate toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in its food packaging materials. As part of the company’s new sustainable packaging policy, the transition from these hazardous chemicals in its food packaging materials will be complete in the United States by the end of 2022. Starbucks has more than 15,000 stores in the United States and 34,000 stores worldwide and is the second biggest fast food chain in the United States
The company declared“By the end of this year, we will have eliminated PFAS from all packaging in the United States and will eliminate PFAS globally by 2023.”
Although the company’s announcement comes after similar commitments from other major restaurant chains, their timeline is faster than many, including McDonald’s, Burger Kingand Taco Bell who have pledged to phase out PFAS from food packaging by 2025. Wendy’s pledged last year to phase out by the end of 2021.
Starbucks announcement follows Toxic-Free Future’s multi-year Mind the Store initiative countryside phase out PFAS from retail food packaging. Toxic-Free Future (TFF) published reports in 2018, 2019and 2020 indicating the presence of PFAS in food packaging materials from major fast food and grocery store chains. Last week, Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons, announced a global ban on PFAS. In response to TFF’s campaign, 22 retailers selling food or food packaging announced actions to reduce or eliminate PFAS in food packaging in more than 140,000 stores worldwide.
Commitment also follows peer review study led by scientists from TFF, University of Washington and Indiana University who discovered PFAS in 100% breast milk samples of 50 mothers in and around Seattle, WA. TFF is recent investigation report further revealed that the only domestic manufacturer of PFAS for food packaging is a major source of PFAS pollution and chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, contaminate drinking water and contribute to climate change.
In response to Starbucks’ announcement, the following statements were made by Toxic-Free Future:
“We are thrilled to see Starbucks moving quickly to join the growing list of food chains committed to protecting their customers from unnecessary toxic PFAS that can harm our health,” said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future. “Now more than ever, customers want to see that the companies they buy from are fully committed to protecting their health. With so many retailers publicly committing to eliminate PFAS from their packaging, now is the time for Congress to act.
“It’s great to see Starbucks take this step forward. Communities across the United States are paying with our health and our taxes for the pollution caused by these toxic chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Toxic-Free Future Federal Policy Program. “Congress should pass the Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act and end this exposure pathway by removing PFAS from the menu nationwide.”
“PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, immune suppression, increased cholesterol, and pregnancy-induced hypertension,” said Erika Schreder, scientific director of Toxic-Free Future. “Now that we know they’re also in the breast milk of American mothers, we can’t waste time replacing PFAS with safer alternatives.”
ABOUT TOXIC-FREE FUTURE’S CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE PFAS IN RETAIL FOOD PACKAGING
Since 2018, Toxic-Free Future’s Watch out for the store The program and its partners across the country have worked to urge the nation’s largest grocery, fast food and fast food chains to ban PFAS in food packaging.
The campaign kicked off with more than 75 letters demanding action to address toxic PFAS sent to major grocery and fast-food chains in North America, followed by product testing surveys at grocery chains in 2018 and 2019. In the summer of 2020, the campaign published a follow-up study, Packaged in Pollution, finding almost half of all food packaging samples that tested positive for fluoride above the screening level indicating the likely presence of PFAS. , including in the packaging of McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper.
The campaign also launched online petitions signed by tens of thousands of consumers; published newsletters analyze retailers’ chemical policies; organized actions in national fast food chains; published fact sheets on alternatives and guidance for implementing PFAS restrictions; engaged investors; author of an original investigative report tracing the toxic pathway of PFAS; and launched a new campaign mascot, Polluted Polly, to inspire actions that break the toxic PFAS life cycle.
Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to be applied to paper and textiles as stain, water and grease repellent treatments.
A growing body of Scientific Research found links between PFAS exposures and a wide range of health problems, including a weaker immune system, cancer, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility and an increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are often referred to as “forever” chemicals because they are not known to break down in the environment and can easily travel through soil into drinking water. With remarkable persistence and mobility, PFAS have become global pollutants that threaten the health of people and wildlife.
In January, TFF published a study that found PFAS in most products labeled as stain and water resistant. A new investigation released last week by Consumer Reports found that PFAS appear to be prevalent in packaging they tested at chain restaurants and grocery stores.
In November 2021, the bipartisan Keep food containers safe from PFAS was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) and in the House of Representatives by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Don Young (R-Alaska). Legislation will prohibit the use of any perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substance as a food contact substance.
State governments take legislative and regulatory action to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME and WA have given state agencies the power to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. CA, CT, ME, MN, NY, VT and WA have adopted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Similar legislation to ban PFAS in food packaging and/or cookware is being considered in the future. at least 11 other states in 2022. VT and ME have enacted bans on PFAS in aftermarket carpets, rugs and treatments and regulatory action is pending on these and other home textiles (e.g. fabrics from home textiles). furnishings, bedding) in CA and WA. CA, CO, CT, IL, ME, NH, NY and WA have implemented bans on the sale of fire fighting foam containing PFAS.
Toxic-free future (TFF) is a non-profit research and advocacy organization that advances the use of safer products, chemicals and practices through science, organizing, advocacy and community engagement. consumers to ensure a healthier future. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families is a Toxic-Free Future program dedicated to achieving strong federal policies that protect the public from toxic chemicals. Watch out for the store is a Toxic-Free Future program that challenges retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives, and rates major retailers on their safer chemicals policies in an annual report Retailer Report Card.