Over the course of a few years, molded fiber bowls have become commonplace in the food take-out industry. Partially a result of bans on styrofoam containers, many companies, such as Chipotle, have happily adopted these bowls as environmentally friendly and completely compostable. Until now. A recent report studied these bowls from popular restaurants, including Chipotle and Sweetgreen, and found their surfaces to be full of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that are not biodegradable. Applied to the bowls to prevent the fibers from degrading when in the presence of liquids, PFAS are toxic and will never actually break down.
San Francisco has already banned PFAS, an act which will go into play January 1, 2020, and bills have been proposed elsewhere. According to the report, there are already many companies working on developing safer alternatives, but no replacement has emerged on the market. This may be an opportunity for a company with extensive IP in the biodegradable packaging sector, such as Graphic Packaging or Eco-Products, to take a greater market share.