The deputies begin on Thursday April 4 the examination of a bill to restrict the manufacture and sale of products containing “eternal pollutants”, the adoption of which is uncertain due to the reservations of the presidential camp, which is the subject pressure from industry.

Very present in everyday life, notably in Teflon pans, food packaging, textiles and automobiles, these per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS owe their nickname to their very long life cycle and, for some, to their effect harmful to health.

At first glance consensual, the bill presented by ecologist Nicolas Thierry, first of eight texts presented by his group as part of its parliamentary niche, should nevertheless be hotly debated. The government highlighted the work underway at European level on Wednesday. “It is at the European level that we must fight on this subject, the European lever is the right lever” in order not to weaken French industry vis-à-vis those of neighboring countries, declared in the hemicycle the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal.

The European Chemicals Agency published a draft in 2023 moving in the direction of a broad limitation of PFAS, but “this initiative is conditional on a long decision-making process and could lead, in the most favorable scenario, to the horizon 2027-2028″, according to Mr. Thierry.

Kitchen tool

The text from the MP for Gironde proposes to reduce the population’s exposure to these molecules by prohibiting the manufacture, import, export and marketing of certain products that contain them.

In its initial version, it planned to ban the use of PFAS from July 2025 for certain products and from 2027 for others, with possible exemptions. In order to obtain a majority in the Sustainable Development Committee last week, Mr. Thierry agreed to limit its ambitions.

The version presented in the hemicycle thus provides for a ban from January 1, 2026 on any kitchen utensil, cosmetic product, wax product (for skis) or textile clothing product containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, The exception of protective clothing for security professionals.

All textiles would be affected by the ban from January 1, 2030. The packaging sector, however, falls outside the scope of the law, to the extent that a European regulation must “very soon” regulate it more strictly.

Other measures include the obligation to control the presence of PFAS in drinking water throughout the country and the application of the polluter pays principle with a tax targeting manufacturers who release them.

“Don’t touch my frying pan.”

Despite this rewriting, the text continues to arouse reluctance. Author of a report published in February which called for “urgently stopping industrial discharges” containing eternal pollutants “without waiting for European restrictions”, the MoDem deputy Cyrille Isaac-Sibille tabled an amendment which plans to postpone the ban applied to kitchen utensils on January 1, 2030, while the kitchenware manufacturer Seb highlights the risk that the text would pose to employment.

Several hundred Seb employees, supported by their management, organized a “casserole” on Wednesday near the National Assembly to demand his “withdrawal”. “Don’t touch my frying pan,” signs read.

The law would threaten 3,000 jobs in the Seb factories in Rumilly (Haute-Savoie) and Tournus (Saône-et-Loire), which notably manufacture Tefal stoves. The polytetrafluoroethene used for the coating of the latter is not dangerous, assures the group.

Questioned by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Mr. Thierry denounced the “somewhat crude lobbying” of an industrialist who “disseminates scientifically erroneous information” and who engages in “classic employment blackmail”, while that “the future will be written without eternal pollutants” and that alternatives already exist for culinary products. “If, on such a serious public health issue, when there is a scientific, political, citizen consensus, we do not act, when do we do it? “, he asked.

According to Jean-Marc Zulesi, Renaissance president of the Sustainable Development Commission, the position of the Macronist group is “not stabilized”. While some advocate the rejection of the text, others argue for pushing back the deadline from 2026 to 2030. “An eternity” for Mr. Thierry.