PFAS: Global investors call on chemical giants to phase out ‘forever chemicals’

Leading global investment groups including AXA IM, Credit Suisse Asset Management (Switzerland), Resona Asset Management and Robeco are appealing to some of the world’s biggest chemical firms to act now to withdraw hazardous PFAS “forever chemicals”.

The call to action follows the recent publication of the third annual ChemScore ranking, which reveals that just four of the 54 chemical companies assessed have a public strategy to phase out the family of Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, which are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not break down in the environment.

PFAS have been linked to a range of adverse health impacts, and have become ubiquitous due to their presence in a wide range of consumer products and water and grease repellent abilities.

The latest index, compiled by green group ChemSec, also shows that very few companies have made significant improvements to their chemicals management strategies and almost half have scored worse than in 2021.

In September, the group of investment asset managers signed a letter to the chief executives of the largest chemical firms urging them to withdraw and substitute PFAS. The letter warned firms of the costly impact of potential lawsuits relating to PFAS’ impact on human health. It also noted that “producers of persistent chemicals face the risk of increased costs associated with reformulating products and modifying processes, which can have significant implications for company performance”.

The investment groups are also pressing chemical companies to disclose the volume of all hazardous chemicals they produce and to demonstrate a commitment to improving their chemicals management.

Sonja Haider, senior business and investors advisor at ChemSec, told ENDS Europe that the hope is that the plea from investment firms will increase “awareness that the topic of chemical pollution can not be pushed away any longer”.

She said that following receipt of the letter, 36 chemical companies have as of yesterday engaged with ChemSec and that this has already led to some meaningful conversations.

A version of this story first appeared on ENDS Report’s sister publication ENDS Europe.