Discussions began today (22 March) on the upcoming ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to environmental NGO ChemSec. Over 100 brands worth more than EUR180m (US$194m) are strongly supporting a comprehensive ban on these harmful chemicals.

The companies, which span a number of industries, have joined the PFAS Movement, an advocacy campaign initiated by environmental NGO ChemSec that calls for comprehensive regulation of PFAS in the EU.

The public has been invited by the EU to give its opinions on the proposed ban.

“A European ban on PFAS chemicals will have huge repercussions for all manufacturing industries and require much work for companies in the global supply chain,” says Anne-Sofie Bäckar, executive director at ChemSec. “However, some parts of the industry oppose this ban, claiming that the change is too big to be justified. That’s why the support for a ban from such influential consumer brands as those in the PFAS Movement is so important. It’s a strong sign that businesses want to eliminate PFAS chemicals in products and processes.”

ChemSec’s PFAS Movement is not only supported by the brands but also by Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo who became a PFAS activist after his involvement in the film Dark Waters. The film depicts the real-life events following the massive uncovering of PFAS contamination in the USA. As a result, several PFAS producers in the USA are now involved in multimillion-dollar lawsuits.

The health and environmental threats of PFAS, along with all the lawsuits, have also created attention among another influential group: institutional investors. Last year, 47 institutional investors with US$8trn in assets sent a letter to 54 chemical companies named by ChemSec, calling for them to halt the production of persistent “forever chemicals”.

The proposed EU ban on PFAS is extensive and the first of its kind worldwide. The idea was initially initiated by Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway, who have spent almost three years mapping the implications of a ban on PFAS chemicals in a dossier that expands over nearly 2,000 pages.

The proposal shows, among other things, that the emissions of PFAS were 75,000 tonnes in 2020. If this continues, the emissions are expected to sit at 4.4m tonnes in 30 years.