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Milliken & Co. Reaches PFAS Milestone

By NAM News Room

Milliken & Company recently became the first U.S.-based multimarket textile manufacturer to remove per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS), according to EHS Today.

What’s going on: In late February, the Spartanburg, South Carolina–based company announced that it had successfully eliminated all PFAS—for decades an industry additive to firefighting foam, clothing and food packaging owing to their fire-dousing and oil-resisting capabilities—from its finishes and textile fibers.

  • “We’re thrilled to be leading the industry in taking meaningful action that will have an immediate impact,” said Milliken Director of Research, Compliance and Sustainability Jeff Strahan. “Our work was intricate, and our team … approached this initiative thoughtfully and with great care for our customers.”
  • The news came just weeks before the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first federal limits on PFAS in drinking water.

The background: Milliken began the process to remove PFAS in 2020.

  • Among the challenges the manufacturer had to overcome in the process: finding replacement chemicals with a similar degree of oil repellency to PFAS, Strahan told the magazine.
  • “Finding a chemical that is oil-repellent is really the holy grail. No one can do this, and everyone has tried for many years, so we talked to our customers to see what adjustments could be made by not using FPAS. For some, it worked, but for others, since we did not find an alternative oil repellency, we ended up leaving those lines of business.”

Looming regulations: In addition to the March EPA proposal, states and other countries have or soon will have rules against PFAS use.

  • This includes California legislation restricting PFAS use by 2025 in new textiles made, sold or distributed, as well as a proposed ban of 10,000 PFAS chemicals by the European Chemicals Agency. 
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