Sometimes single use plates come in handy. Be it at a picnic, a party, or when you’re on the road and getting take out. But that lunch from a seemingly innocent paper plate could be accompanied by toxic chemicals.
But what these consumers don’t realize, says Lauren Gropper, founder and CEO of Repurpose, is that they’re not just problematic for the environment but also for your health. Single use plates can contain PFAS, or what’s known as ‘forever chemicals,’ which can lead to a variety of health issues over years of exposure. Found in cosmetics, cookware, building materials, and so many everyday items, they’re chemicals that are now getting attention from policymakers.
Turns out they’re also on disposable plates and bowls, including eco-friendly paper products. “Molded fiber products, such as plates and bowls, use PFAS to provide a grease and moisture barrier so that oils and liquids don’t seep through the products.”
When Gropper was made aware of this, she worked to eliminate them from their lineup of products. The process wasn’t necessarily easy, she says: “It’s more costly, and very different to work with. But from our perspective the fact that other companies are still using PFAS when there are non-toxic alternatives available is difficult to comprehend.”
In the same poll, Repurpose discovered that Americans are keen to buy single-use products that are compostable and environmentally conscious: 82% said they would be willing to buy more eco-friendly versions of paper and plastic products. But, even the eco-versions should not be coated PFAS
Gropper welcomes this increased scrutiny from researchers and the media, which could be helpful in phasing out PFAS.
“The new conversations around PFAS and the efforts to regulate it certainly give us hope, though it is upsetting that it requires legislative action to force corporations to remove such a harmful group of chemicals from their products when there are non-toxic alternatives currently available,” she iterates.
Till then, she urges consumers to ask more questions and turn to companies like theirs that are actively addressing the issue — and making it clear to consumers that it’s PFAS-free.