PFAS compounds have been used for decades in everyday materials, such as cookware, cosmetics, packaging, outdoor clothing, and firefighting materials. Since they are widely used and the products disposed of, the compounds now exist throughout our environment and have the potential to contaminate composting material.
Legislation and regulations aimed at curbing PFAS are well-intentioned but put the responsibility on waste management and operations such as composting that reuse material to avoid disposing of valuable organic resources in landfills and incinerators. Why not place the responsibility with the sources of PFAS instead?
The diversion of food waste and biosolids from US landfills to composting avoids approximately 2.7 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions from the atmosphere annually. Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all recognize the importance of composting with benefits above and beyond lowering carbon footprints.
The US Composting Council is posting helpful information for communities with composting operations or considering composting on its website. The Council recently called for bans on products containing synthetic chemical compounds known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) (perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS).