“Don’t touch my frying pan”: demonstration by Seb group employees in Paris against the ban on “eternal pollutants”

“Don’t touch my frying pan”: demonstration by Seb group employees in Paris against the ban on “eternal pollutants”

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To the sound of a concert of stoves, hundreds of employees of the Seb groupsupported by their management, gathered on Wednesday in Paris to demand the “withdrawal” of the proposed law on PFAS or “eternal pollutants”, which they fear could put their jobs at risk.

“Don’t touch my pan” and “Let’s save the pans Made in France”, indicate the signs of the demonstrators gathered on the Esplanade des Invalides and who wish to continue manufacturing Tefal utensils in their factories using contested non-stick substances, based on fluorinated components.

VIDEO. Environmentalist commando operation on an Arkema site to denounce “eternal” pollutants

“We demand the pure and simple withdrawal of this law,” declared the general director of the group Stanislas de Gramont, present at the demonstration. He sees in the text banning PFAS in France “a very direct threat” to the 3,000 jobs at the Seb factories in Rumilly (Haute-Savoie) and Tournus (Saône-et-Loire) which notably manufacture Tefal stoves.

“We are very angry, we are being dragged into confusions that are not serious at all,” he added. The group ensures that PTFE (polytetrafluoroethene), used for the non-stick coating of 90% of its pans, is not considered “harmful to health or the environment”.

“Untruth”

A strong argument, countered by scientists on Wednesday: “To say that there are no problems with PTFE is an untruth,” reacted Pierre Labadie, research director at the CNRS in environmental chemistry. “It is true that under normal conditions of use, without overheating the pans, PTFE, an inert and stable polymer, does not penetrate the body, but its manufacture can generate potentially toxic fluorinated surfactants. Likewise at the time of its destruction or recycling, there is also the possibility of generating problematic PFAS,” he said.

The Rumilly sector (Haute-Savoie) “is subject to particular monitoring in terms of perfluorinated pollution (PFAS)”, with “monitoring of the public drinking water network, private catchments from Cereal Partners France ( CPF) and potential sources of pollution (Tefal, ex-Salomon site and the former Fortier Beaulieu tannery”, according to an update from the region’s health authorities at the start of the year.

The bill, carried by the environmentalist deputy Nicolas Thierry, must be debated and put to a vote on Thursday in the Assembly. In particular, it plans to ban the manufacture, sale and import into France of certain products containing PFAS.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, used in the chemical industry, accumulate over time in the air, soil, river water, food and even in the human body, hence their nickname “eternal pollutants”.

A sign that the mobilization of the Seb group seems to be starting to have an impact, an amendment tabled by MoDem deputy Cyrille Isaac-Sibille intends to postpone the ban applied to kitchen utensils to January 1, 2030.

For his part, the Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, questioned by an environmentalist deputy in the Assembly on the dangerousness of PFAS, responded that the government was “fighting at the European level” to “reduce the presence of these molecules, particularly in food packaging”. “We had a first victory in Brussels” he said, “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 at the expense of those of neighboring countries.

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