The disposable plant-based bowls used by many fast-casual restaurants have been found to contain toxic PFAS chemicals.
The beige, compostable bowls are made from molded plant fibers, but are lined in PFAS chemicals that cannot biodegrade, resulting in polluted soil and water. Restaurant chains that use this type of packaging include Chipotle and Sweetgreen.
The PFAS chemicals are used in constructing the bowls in order to help protect them from grease run-off, moisture and heat, making the containers much more durable. In protecting the bowls from compounds that could easily break them down, however, the PFAS chemicals also prevent them from properly biodegrading in compost bins or landfills.
The chemicals have potentially harmful impacts on the human body, including digestive issues and cancer. PFAS chemicals are more difficult for humans to process and can easily become built-up in the body, The Guardian reports.
The Biodegradable Packaging Institute will no longer certify “compostability” in containers including PFAS chemicals beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. In order to avoid PFAS chemicals in takeaway packaging, look for the BPI certification beginning next year.
The Indiana Environmental Reporter has previously investigated the presence of PFAS chemicals at Naval Support Activity Crane and Grissom Air Base. You can read more about recent PFAS developments and how they impact the lives of people living in the state of Indiana here and here.