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Research projects

Reconciling safe and circular material flows - a case study of PFAS in the lifecycle of food packaging

About this project

A transition to a circular economy is needed to reduce our use of virgin resources and limit detrimental effects on our environment. Persistent and harmful chemicals present in materials entering recycling processes hinders safe and circular material flows. We aim to provide insights of the magnitude of this goal conflict as well as solutions for a resource-efficient and toxic-free material flow based on a case of circular board packaging materials and PFAS and suggest how we can regulate and control circular supply chains to increase circularity while reducing contamination and circulation of PFAS in food packaging materials. 

A broad screening of board food packages will be conducted to determine the extent of PFAS and organic fluorine in materials available on the Swedish market. Combined with studies of how companies in a circular supply chain seek to control chemical contamination (and PFAS in particular) of food packages we will present leverage points for a PFAS-free board circular system. The origin and fate of PFAS in paperboard when it is recycled into new packages will be studied to see if PFAS are transferred into the new products or being released during the production process and what control measures can be taken to reduce their presence. By interdisciplinary research in close collaboration with key stakeholders the project serves to build further trust in reused and recycled materials so that consumers and producers may participate in a safe circular economy.

Research funding bodies

  • The Swedish Research Council Formas