(Sponsored) Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of synthetic chemicals that resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the human body. The potential risks of PFAS exposure have become a growing concern, with increased media coverage leading to consumer demand for PFAS-free products and regulatory action across the globe. Assent’s Cally Edgren shares key details businesses need to know.
The regulations around PFAS are rapidly evolving, making manufacturers vulnerable to supply chain disruptions, including product design challenges and early product obsolescence. In addition, new requirements mean new data collection and reporting processes, with consequences like brand damage and market access loss for non-compliance.
Is your supply chain vulnerable to hidden PFAS risks? Many manufacturers don’t yet have the data to know for sure. Here’s what businesses need to know about proactive PFAS compliance and scoping risks.
Start with your products
PFAS could be hidden deep in your supply chain, and you might not be aware of it. Identifying your particular PFAS risks is critical to maintaining market access and protecting your brand reputation. Manufacturers must understand the nature of PFAS risks in their supply chains to assess their impact on human health and the environment. This starts with conducting a comprehensive PFAS assessment of their product portfolio.
First, examine your product composition and performance. Look for PFAS properties in your products — do they have non-stick coatings or are they waterproof? Are you using heat-resistant materials, including electrical insulation?
Prioritization is essential. Many products could contain PFAS, so you must determine which products pose the greatest non-compliance risk. From there, start supplier outreach for data on product composition. You need to know what substances are in your parts and products and flag any PFAS chemicals. Suppliers may need to dig into their own supply chains to ensure they aren’t using PFAS in the articles they sell, so give yourself and them ample time to collect data.
Armed with this information, you can better focus your compliance efforts.
(Sponsored) Today's ever-changing regulatory landscape presents a real challenge for supply chain professionals looking to ensure compliance while keeping costs in check. Compliance programs are composed of many people, tools and processes, and it is crucial that organizations allocate these resources carefully to maintain smooth operations.Read more
Navigating the complex PFAS regulatory landscape
Regulations for PFAS are on the rise, making it critical for manufacturers to stay up to date on developments in whichever markets they serve. There’s a dizzying amount of legislation, both pending and already in force. Manufacturers need to determine what rules affect them and how, and how to define an efficient strategy for complying with multiple, but differing, PFAS regulations at once.
Just this week, the EPA finalized its new federal PFAS reporting standards, while states like Minnesota and Maine had already introduced legislation to restrict PFAS use, set drinking water standards and create reporting requirements. This current regulatory landscape makes compliance difficult, as manufacturers selling products in multiple states may have to create multiple PFAS reports, adding to compliance program costs and effort.
The EU also has a comprehensive PFAS management strategy, with existing requirements and many more expected in the near future.
- Under the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction (REACH) Regulation, the restricted list (Annex XVII) already includes several PFAS.
- A larger group restriction (C9-14 perfluorocarboxylic acids [PFCAs]) came into effect in February 2023.
- A broad proposal for restricting most PFAS in firefighting foams was published on Feb. 7, 2023, which includes over 10,000 more PFAS chemicals.
- There are also more than a dozen PFAS entries in the REACH Candidate List of substances of very high concern (SVHCs).
Adopt a Proactive Strategy
With all the uncertainty and change happening in PFAS regulations, it’s tempting to take a “wait-and-see” approach. However, the complexity of manufacturing supply chains and the timelines for compliance have proven that a proactive approach is necessary.
Beyond the upcoming regulatory requirements, there are a number of PFAS-related risks that are already affecting the manufacturing industry:
- Product obsolescence: With major chemical manufacturers like 3M halting the production of PFAS products, businesses that procure PFAS components will need to identify alternative substances. Without PFAS-specific properties, many products may need to be discontinued.
- Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO): Manufacturers also rely on PFAS as part of their everyday MRO processes. You need to know now if any of your equipment relies on parts, such as gaskets or seals, so you can seek alternatives before they stop being available on the market.
Part of implementing a proactive compliance strategy is engaging your supply chain. Collaborating with suppliers for PFAS-free alternatives is essential for proactively managing PFAS risks. Manufacturers should communicate their expectations about PFAS in products with suppliers and explore opportunities to substitute PFAS with alternatives. Reaching out to suppliers early on ensures they’re aware of and understand new product compliance requirements. Being proactive and communicating new expectations before proposals become law gives suppliers time to collect data, too.
Protect your compliance & bottom line
Through proactive planning, clear communication with suppliers and regular monitoring of evolving regulations, businesses can reduce PFAS risks in their supply chain. Complying with these new and evolving regulations is not easy, but implementing digital solutions for PFAS data collection and roll up can make your processes more efficient and improve supplier engagement with your compliance program.
The time to start collecting supply chain PFAS data and identifying your risks is now, as data is due to the EPA within 18-24 months. There’s much at stake:
- Increased competition for parts: Materials that were once widely circulated may become obsolete. PFAS-free alternatives will be in high demand, and the first manufacturers to secure a stockpile will have a clear production advantage.
- Product redesign: Manufacturers may have to retest, recertify and requalify their products as compliant with codes, standards or regulations. All of this costs time and money, and your products can’t be sold until you can prove they’re safe, hurting your bottom line.
- Liability: Insurers have begun asking if companies are using PFAS in operations or products. PFAS usage creates a liability for these companies as well as their clients. Manufacturers are likely to be required to pay for expensive site cleanups in the future, there are class action lawsuits against manufacturers that make false claims about products containing PFAS.
A guide to getting started
Assent has published a comprehensive guide to PFAS compliance, which outlines the steps businesses need to take now.
The guide covers:
- Steps for conducting a comprehensive PFAS assessment of your product portfolio.
- Understanding the current and upcoming regulations around PFAS.
- Aligning your strategy with evolving requirements.
- Adopting a proactive approach toward compliance.
Don’t let your business become vulnerable to the pressing challenges and regulatory complexities surrounding PFAS. Assent’s comprehensive guide lays essential groundwork to navigate these risks, ensuring that you’re not only prepared today, but well-equipped for the evolving regulatory landscape of tomorrow. Start your proactive approach to PFAS compliance now by downloading our guide today.