It’s time for EU decision-makers to severely restrict the intentional use of microplastics

Between 75,000 and 300,000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment each year in the EU.

A proportion of these microplastics are escaping into our environment after having been intentionally produced, supplied and used in products like cosmetics, detergents, paints, pesticides and even sports fields

These tiny synthetic polymers are harmful to biodiversity as they resist biodegradation – breaking down in nature – and block the digestive tracts of aquatic creatures, turtles and birds. Many scientists believe them to be harmful to human health.

An EU-wide action putting an end to this rising pollution is needed now! 

So what is being done to tackle intentionally-added microplastics?

In line with the EU Plastics Strategy (2018), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was asked to make a proposal for restricting the use of intentionally-added microplastics under the Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH). This proposal is to be given to the European Commission and Member States which is why it needs to be as ambitious as possible. This legislation to restrict intentionally-added microplastics will need to stand up to strong industry pressure and lobbying which will attempt to delay and weaken its effectiveness. 

In November 2020, in advance of ECHA sending their final proposal to the European Commission and Member States we outlined key recommendations requited to fix their draft as we urged them to strengthen microplastics ban. You can read our Position Paper or Summary Paper (please note the more up-to-date version is below).

Since then, on February 23rd, ECHA handed over their proposals to the European Commission. The final draft has major loopholes remaining that could favour unproven biodegradable plastics and give some sectors up to 8 years to take action. We shared our thoughts in a press release alongside a letter to the European Commission, and updated versions of our position paper and summary paper:

Relevant News Stories: 

The following organisations support the position taken in our position paper:

Calls to tackle intentionally-added microplastics on twitter:

Rethink Plastic