Toxic Chemicals

Zero Waste addresses toxic chemicals in our products

Keep toxic chemicals out of our products

Many everyday consumer products contain toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, impact our hormones, and more. These chemicals are allowed in our products because the United States does not require manufacturers to prove that chemicals are safe before they are used in consumer products.

In the EU, policies mandate that chemicals cannot be used in products until they are proven safe.

This means that we need to fix the laws here and in the meantime be vigilant in working to get toxic chemicals (and families of chemicals) out of our products. The chemicals can harm us while we use the items and then continue to cause problems if they are recycled into other products or end up in our compost.

Remove PFAS from our food packaging

Per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals put into or sprayed on products so that they will repel water, fat and other substances. They are used in many commercial applications including food serviceware products such as paper plates and clamshells, pizza boxes and popcorn bags.

These toxic chemicals can migrate into the food that is placed on the food serviceware (i.e., packaging) and are showing up in composts that include food serviceware. In other words, if you put your paper plates and takeout boxes into your bin with your food wastes, PFAS get incorporated into the compost created at our commercial facilities.

The good news is that Zero Waste Washington helped pass a law in Washington to phase out these toxic chemicals!

Ask questions about items you buy

Toxic chemicals such as flame retardants are found in cushioned furniture and some textiles. Phthalates – endocrine disrupters which alter your hormones – are used as plasticizers in many plastic items and are used to hold the fragrance in personal care products. Heavy metals (such as lead) and other toxic chemicals show up in surprising places. Zero Waste means getting to zero toxic chemicals.

Phthalates study

Zero Waste Washington is investigating phthalates in outdoor-use products.  Find out more.