HOUSTON, December 4, 2023 – In response to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) December 1 orders directing Inhance Technologies to cease fluorination of high-density polyethylene plastic containers and fuel systems, the company will pursue all legal options to protect its customers, suppliers, and employees and to ensure the continued operations of this environmentally critical technology.
Fluorinated barrier packaging is critical in protecting the environment by preventing permeation of container contents through evaporative emissions. Inhance Technologies’ barrier technology annually prevents more than 25,000 metric tons of chemicals from being released into the environment that would otherwise occur due to packaging permeation.
The EPA decision to ban the fluorination of plastics defies sound science, data-driven risk assessment, and is a significant departure from past and current policies and practices. Inhance Technologies does not use any PFAS in its fluorination processes and any PFAS, if present, are unintended impurities that serve no commercial purpose. The company has provided EPA data demonstrating that less than five grams of these long chain PFAS impurities are present in its packaging applications, annually, which is significantly less than other EPA-authorized uses or releases of the same PFAS in question.
Quantitative risk assessments carried out by highly credible third-party experts show that fluorination of packaging and fuel systems do not present an unreasonable risk to the environment or human health. These risk assessments were lauded by EPA career staff as “robust.”
Over the past two years, Inhance Technologies has conducted significant research and development and voluntarily implemented measures to further reduce the potential for PFAS formation, achieving non-detect levels in almost all of the plastic packaging articles treated. Through its continuing investments, the company expects to reach 100% non-detect for all PFAS in question and has provided EPA with regular progress reports and a timeline to complete this important work. Yet EPA appears steadfast in its approach to remove this environmentally important technology from existence.
EPA’s action represents a substantial regulatory overreach, which will significantly and negatively affect many lawful industries involved in the fluorination of plastics and plastic containers, and many thousands of upstream and downstream businesses and their employees. With a cessation of this technology, we anticipate significant and near immediate disruption across the supply chains of crop production, vaccine transportation, outdoor power equipment, fuel additives, as well as many other industries. Suitable replacement technology is not available for myriad applications, and in addition, current container inventories are low due to broad supply chain destocking that has occurred over the last 18 months. Third-party economic analyses estimate approximately $40 billion dollars of economic loss and an impact to more than 100,000 jobs across the various supply chains following the proposed EPA action.
EPA relies upon a rule that has never applied, and does not now apply, to Inhance Technologies’ 40-year-old operations. EPA seeks to ban the company’s fluorination technology using the very same rule that EPA has used to authorize other companies to intentionally utilize PFAS in their operations and product formulations. Numerous industrial uses of the PFAS in question – such as semiconductors, automotive, medical, fluoropolymers, and a wide range of imported products – are exempted from the rule as ongoing uses. Inhance Technologies’ fluorination process has been in continuous use since 1983 and is therefore not subject to the SNUR. Further, under other programs and for other companies, EPA has expressly authorized the release of some of the same PFAS at issue here.
Fluorinated barrier packaging represents less than 0.2% of the 15 billion pounds of polyethylene packaging produced annually in the United States, and is vital to environmental and human health protection, product efficacy, and sustainability.
Inhance Technologies will take all available measures to ensure the continuation of this safe and environmentally beneficial technology, including all remedies of the law.