Poly-and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) materials
Wells Plastics Limited is recognised as a significant manufacturer of polymer processing aid (PPA) masterbatches within the European marketplace and the materials produced in the UK have been used extensively to provide processing benefits and advantages in the polyolefin film, sheet and fibre extrusion market for over 30 years.
In particular Wells’ products find use in blown film manufacture to eliminate melt fracture and improve film quality such as enhanced optical transmission, whilst also increasing machine throughput via reduced die pressure and reducing die-lip build-up. Some of the PPA masterbatches produced by Wells utilise fluoropolymer chemistry as one of the active ingredients, albeit ultimately at a very low level in the end application.
As many of you are aware Poly-and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), as a material set, are currently undergoing a restriction review process within the EU due to their very persistent nature in the environment. The UK and USA are also reviewing these substances under different methodologies and are at different stages of the process. The EU study considers all fluoropolymer chemistry as a single entity and as such PPAs using fluoropolymers are classed as PFAS materials.
Regarding the current position of the EU study, the initial restriction proposal and annexes have been submitted to, and published by, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and is now undergoing a period of public consultation, and review by the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and Social & Economic Advisory Committee (SEAC) at ECHA.
It has been indicated by ECHA, that due to the complex and extensive nature of this study (over 1600 pages of report and annexes before further public consultation submissions) the process will require additional time over that typically taken, and as such the final restriction dossier is not expected to be published until 2026.
Wells Plastics is actively submitting data to the study of the importance of this class of material for PPA use and is monitoring the progress and development of the study closely together with our suppliers.
Whilst a ban on the use of PFAS in PPA applications is not immediate, Wells has actively undertaken a detailed research programme to develop suitable alternative material technologies to replace PFAS based PPAs with minimal change in efficacy to the marketplace.
It is expected that over the next few months commercial quantities of these PFAS–free alternative novel PPA solutions will be available for our customers to assess and approve.
These solutions will comply with EU, UK and FDA food contact requirements and provide the performance our customers expect from a PPA.
If you have any questions or require more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Wells Plastics Account Manager.