Baltimore — As scrutiny of fluorinated PFAS compounds increases, plastics companies using them as aids in manufacturing or as additives like flame retardants say pressure is rapidly growing to phase them out.
"I'd say in the last six months there's been an enormous change," said Mike Goode, chief commercial officer for FRX Polymers Inc., a Chelmsford, Mass., maker of flame retardants, addressing a recent industry conference. "They're all looking at replacing it … and that's because certain really well-known brand owners are asking for it."
Goode, whose company makes non-PFAS replacement products, named electronics maker Apple, e-commerce giant Amazon and energy management firm Schneider Electric, although he said Schneider may be more exploratory than the others.
Goode and others at an Oct. 18-19 Society of Plastics Engineers conference, Per- And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Plastics Industry, cautioned that the scientific and performance questions are complex, with drop-in replacements sometimes hard to find.
But scrutiny is growing, including in the packaging market.
"I don't know how many brands are here [at the conference] but the few that I know, that I've worked with, they have already made up their minds for packaging — they told us to change," said Roberto Nunez, director of market development at Baerlocher USA, a unit of the German additive maker. "They told that to film companies, to suppliers. You have no choice. The only question is how or what cost."
Nunez gave a presentation at the conference on PFAS-free polymer processing aids that Baerlocher had developed, where he also discussed market trends.
Fluorinated PPAs are used in manufacturing of blown film, wire and cable, and pipe to help molten polymers flow quickly against metal dies and molds, and they perform well, he said.