On August 30, 2022, the European Commission released a draft proposal to restrict intentionally added microplastics. The restriction would comprise synthetic polymer microparticles below 5 mm and fiber-like particles below 15 mm that are used in products on intention and may result in environmental release. It could ban the use of microplastics in cosmetics, cleaning products, pesticides, and sports fields amongst others, and thus covers sources of microplastics that are preventable. According to the draft, the “Commission considers it appropriate to exclude natural, degradable and soluble polymers from the definition of synthetic polymer microparticles.”
In a press release of August 31, 2022, the environmental groups ClientEarth and European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomed the proposed restrictions but they also expressed their concern about shortcomings. According to the draft, companies may be given 12 years to adapt to the law which the groups find “unacceptable.” They further urged that “this draft becomes the strongest law possible if we are to stop microplastics pollution.” EEB has been following the process and has previously criticized that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) initially proposed a lower size limit of microplastic of 100 nm. In the current draft also smaller particles are considered.
On September 23, 2022, the draft proposal was debated at the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Committee.
In 2017, the Council called upon the Commission to ban polymers in cosmetics, personal care products, and detergents. Two years later ECHA published the Annex XV dossier concluding “that the intentional use of synthetic polymer microparticles, resulting in releases to the environment, poses a risk to the environment that is not adequately controlled and needs to be addressed on a Union-wide basis.” It was estimated that more than 42 000 tonnes of intentionally-present microplastics yearly end up in the environment.
European Commission (August 30, 2022). “COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) …/… of XXX amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards synthetic polymer microparticles.”
Client Earth (August 31, 2022). “Green groups welcome microplastics restriction but warn of shortcomings.”
This article was originally published by Lisa Zimmermann at the Food Packaging Forum.