FEAD’s Conference on PFAS in waste
FEAD, the European Waste Management Association, hosted a conference on PFAS in the waste sector to analyse the impact of a potential ban. During the event (as part of the Ecomondo trade fair in Rimini), the Environmental Engineering Research Team of the University of Padova presented their results of a critical review, commissioned by FEAD, on the presence of PFASs in relevant waste streams.
The initiative is in response to the ‘PFAS ban’ proposal spearheaded by several EU Member States and submitted to ECHA at the beginning of this year. This research retrieved almost 5.000 single concentration values from the consulted papers. Within the limits of the critical review and concerning only the selected waste streams, just a very small number of cases exceeded the proposed concentration limit values. The percentage of exceedances ranged from almost 1% (in paper waste) to 8% (in textiles waste). The outcome of the critical review is intended to help policymakers, the industry, and the public to understand the impacts of the proposed restriction for the waste management sector and provide scientifically-sound bases for reliable regulation. The full work has been submitted to a scientific Journal to be published as open access. Once the paper will be published a link will be available on the official webpage of FEAD.
Dr. Dannenberg, a Scientific Officer at the German Federal Office for Chemicals, BAuA, launched the event with a presentation on the restriction proposal submitted to ECHA. This was followed by Professor Pivato’s, from the University of Padova, presentation illustrating the results of the critical review commissioned by FEAD. Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Unit Waste, DG ENV European Commission, closed the presentations by giving the Commission’s point of view on the proposal. Afterwards, a panel discussion was held, during which Claudia Mensi, FEAD’s President, Michaël Mansuy, Public Affairs Director at VEOLIA, Dr. Gudio Premoli from LabAnalysis, and Professor Pivato discussed the impact on the waste management sector of a potential PFAS ban.
Claudia Mensi, FEAD President said: “Policy makers are very focused on products and do not consider the future waste status of those products in their regulation. The waste sector is an important part of the value chain and needs to be considered as an important stakeholder and be listened to. We need to be able to talk about this topic without any fear.”
Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Unit Waste, DG ENV European Commission, stated: “There has been a lot of attention on PFAS these last few years. This is why it is important FEAD commissioned this study because the first and most important step is to gather data and to map where PFASs are.”
Professor Pivato, Assistant Professor, University of Padova, said: “We took a different approach than the one from the proposal, which was made from the product perspective. We looked into the impact on the waste status of these products. Given that PFAS is an extremely widely used substance, the probability of finding them in waste is very high. At what concentration levels is the question we want to try to answer.”
Michaël Mansuy, Public Affairs Director – Waste Management, Veolia, stressed:
“The measures taken on PFAS need to be done at European level or we will have huge fragmentations between Member States. In addition, we need consistency because we do not want small pieces of PFAS in different regulations.”
Dr. Dannenberg, Scientific Officer, Federal Office for Chemicals, BAuA, Germany, highlighted: “We propose this restriction due to an unacceptable risk related to the use of PFAS. The impact on recycling will be assessed by the scientific committees as part of the socio- economic considerations of the proposal, taking into account the input received from the public consultation.”
Dr. Guido Premoli, LabAnalysis, noted: “My concern is about the traceability of PFAS at these levels of concentration (25 ppb). Authorities should create working groups to establish official analytical methods as soon as possible.”
We would like to thank all the speakers for their enriching perspectives and all the participants who joined us in Rimini.