PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are a class of chemicals that have gained widespread attention due to their presence in our environment and potential health impacts. PFAS are found in everyday products, including non-stick cookware, food packaging, textiles and firefighting foam. These substances are incredibly persistent, meaning they do not break down and can accumulate in the environment and our bodies over time.
The European Union has classified PFAS as substances of very high concern (SVHC) and is in the process of restricting certain PFAS through a REACH restriction planned for 2023. In addition, the European Commission has committed to a complete phase-out of PFASs in the long term. However, despite the potential health and environmental risks, industry and consumers are reluctant to switch to non-fluorinated products due to the lack of alternatives that offer comparable performance and cost.
ZeroF aims to prevent further PFAS pollution by developing new coating technologies for food packaging and upholstery textiles. The goal is to replace PFAS with non-toxic compounds and renewable feedstock while ensuring comparable performance and cost. The material design will be guided by a Safe-and-Sustainable-by-Design framework. Analyses, such as life cycle analysis, life cycle costs, and environmental footprint assessment, will help reduce the environmental impact by over 25%.
The project partners will identify incentives and barriers to facilitate the introduction of PFAS-free coating materials and develop a certification and regulatory roadmap to anticipate future requirements. Ultimately, the ZeroF project aims to provide a viable alternative to PFAS, address industry and consumer hesitancy to switch to PFAS-free products and contribute to the phase-out of PFAS.