PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.
COP 26 Packaging - Fidra
Sign up for our email newsletter:


Ditching disposables

We urgently need to move towards a circular economy, reducing the consumption of raw materials and shrinking our carbon footprint. We advocate phasing out single-use packaging where there are practical reusable alternatives. This ranges from consumer items (i.e. takeaway food containers) to industry packaging (i.e. polystyrene fish boxes).



Much single-use packaging continues to be made of materials that cannot be effectively recycled, so resources are being lost through poor design.

Even if made of recyclable or compostable materials, poor infrastructure means that a large proportion of packaging doesn’t reach its intended waste streams.

A large proportion of recyclable material and compostable packaging ends up in landfill, incineration plants or the environment.


Wherever possible and practical single-use packaging should be removed or replaced with reusable alternatives.

All single-use packaging should be recyclable or compostable with effective collection and processing infrastructure.

Where single-use packaging cannot be recycled or composted (i.e. poor infrastructure), compostable items without harmful chemicals (i.e. PFAS) should be used.


Purchase items with no or reusable packaging, or use refill systems, wherever possible.

If single-use packaging or is unavoidable, ensure it is recyclable or compostable and can be put into the relevant waste stream.

Where single-use packaging cannot be recycled or composted, use compostable packaging without harmful chemicals (i.e. PFAS).