Zume, a sustainability solutions company creating economically viable substitutes for single-use plastics, has announced a partnership with Solenis, a global producer of specialty chemicals. They are open-sourcing a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) replacement for food packaging manufacturing to food manufacturers and CPG brands across the global market. To see the open-source process, click here.

In conjunction, Zume is announcing it will no longer manufacture any products that contain PFAS from its California packaging facility, effective immediately, and the company is collaborating with its global partners to ensure that all production globally is PFAS-free by the end of 2021. 

After nine months of deep collaboration and research & development to create a solution that reduces the need for single-use plastics, Zume and Solenis are open-sourcing the recipe and manufacturing process so that all packaging manufacturers can adopt the technique and speed up the removal of harmful chemicals. This marks an important milestone for the industry, as two major companies unveil the complex process of creating a molded fiber packaging solution that ensures food grease and water resistance without the need for PFAS or harmful chemicals

The new scientific report cowritten by Zume and Solenis, Putting Forever Chemicals to Rest: An Open-Source Guide to PFAS-Free Packaging, details the findings from both companies’ scientists as they created and tested the new process. The coauthors conclude that products leveraging the new solution will be fully compostable within 90 days of disposal.

The joint team identified five key parameters—thermoforming, freeness, chemistry management, charge management, and part formation—for achieving oil and grease resistance, with chemistry that eliminated PFAS and achieved two hours of oil holdout with 60 °C oil. By following these process parameters and control strategy, manufacturers around the world will be able to provide end-use consumers with a fully functional product that does not pose a health risk.

PFAS, largely known as forever chemicals, are used to coat paper and cardboard containers for fast food and to-go boxes and have been linked to potentially harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, weakened immune system response, and increased risk for certain cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has mandated that these substances will not be allowed in the manufacturing of food-contact packaging after January 2024.

News of Zume’s PFA-free open-sourcing comes on the heels of several major moves from the company this year. In June, the company shared global expansion deals with 20+ countries spanning the UK, Europe, and Russia, followed by sustainable manufacturing agreements with India’s Parason and Satia Industries in May. Most recently, Zume unveiled a high-profile partnership with Texas-based Jefferson Enterprise Energy to build a $220 million, 100 percent clean energy-powered, sustainable manufacturing plant.

Last month, Delaware-based Solenis announced that it was merging with Sigura in an acquisition by Platinum Equity that was valued at more than $5 billion.

The study’s participants were Pamela Horine, VP product research and compliance, Zume, Inc.; Christopher Dilkus, senior research scientist, Solenis LLC; Cindy Chau, quality engineer, Zume Inc.; and Dottie Klein, assistant manager sales, Solenis, LLC. 

To see the open-source process, go to: zume.com/pages/freefromPFAS

To partner with Zume and Solenis, go to: zume.com/pages/brands.