A recent “state of the science” report from the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development calls for more research on PFAS in compost and digestate, saying there are currently too many unknowns about how the chemicals show up in such material. The report, meant “to inform food waste management decisions,” compiles the available research on PFAS and other chemical contamination found in food waste, hay and manure used for compost and anaerobic digestion.
Composts made from a variety of materials have a range of different contamination levels, the report said. Biosolids are thought to have the highest concentration of PFAS, followed by food waste, then yard waste, according to the report. Both the EPA and organics experts say a major source of PFAS in compost comes from packaging.
Organics and compost trade groups say the report unfairly scrutinizes their sector and mischaracterizes some of the data in the report. More should be done to target PFAS manufacturers and manufacturers of packaging and products known to contain the chemicals instead, said Frank Franciosi, executive director of the US Composting Council.