In a move Zume calls an unprecedented technological breakthrough, the tech-focused developer of sustainable packaging has created a substitute for single-use plastics it is open sourcing in partnership with Solenis for food packaging manufacturers and consumer packaged goods brands.

The new products resulting from the partnership are free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of man-made chemicals often referred to as PFAS that have been used in a variety of industries since the 1940s and have been linked to a variety of adverse human health effects. PFAS chemicals are very persistent in the environment, which has given them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

As part of the announcement, Zume said it will no longer manufacture any products that contain PFAS from its California packaging facility, and that the company is collaborating with its global partners—as discussed in this recent Food On Demand story—to ensure that all global production is PFA-free by the end of 2021.

“Open sourcing our PFA-free solution creates a path for brands across the world to remove plastics and harmful chemicals from their consumer packaging and single-use goods,” said Zume CEO and Chairman Alex Garden. “Brands have made pledges to remove PFAS and this new launch will enable them to deliver on their promises.”

After 9 months of collaboration and R&D to create a solution that reduces the need for single-use plastics, Zume and Solenis are open-sourcing the recipe and manufacturing process so that all packaging manufacturers can adopt the technique and speed up the removal of harmful chemicals. This marks an important milestone for the industry, as two companies unveil the complex process of creating a molded fiber packaging solution that ensures food grease and water-resistance, without the need for PFAS or harmful chemicals.

“Our goal is to encourage any manufacturer in the world to start using this technology as quickly as possible,” said Solenis CEO John Panichella. “Through this joint initiative with Zume, global brands can meet their commitments to eliminate the use of PFAS faster than ever before.”

The new scientific report co-written by Zume and Solenis, “Putting Forever Chemicals to Rest: An Open-Source Guide to PFAS-Free Packaging,” details the findings from both company’s scientists as they created and tested the new process. The co-authors conclude that products leveraging the new solution will be fully compostable within 90 days of disposal.

The joint team identified five key parameters—thermoforming, freeness, chemistry management, charge management and part formation—for achieving oil and grease resistance with chemistry that eliminated PFAS and achieved two hours of oil holdout with 60°C oil. By following these process parameters and control strategy, the two companies said manufacturers around the world will be able to provide end use consumers with a fully functional product that does not pose a health risk.

PFAS and polyfluoroalkyl substances are used to coat paper and cardboard containers for fast food and to-go boxes and have been linked to potentially harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, weakened immune system response and increased risk for certain cancers, according to the CDC. The Food and Drug Administration has mandated that these substances will not be allowed in the manufacturing of food contact packaging after January 2024.

More information on the open-source process is available at