#ChasingPellets documentary reveals huge pellet pollution in the Mediterranean

The pellet pollution reaches the Balearic Islands, affecting areas of special importance such as areas of high biodiversity and ecosystems of great ecological value in the Balearic Islands.

The documentary has been shared with the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, requesting support to demand European legislation to limit pellet pollution.

Plastic pellets, also known as nurdles or mermaid tears, are small spheres (typically less than 5 mm) that are used as raw material in the manufacture of plastic articles. Due to a lack of regulation in the value chain and bad practices, pellets are “lost” in the different stages of the plastic production and distribution chain (production, transport, recycling…) At European level, pellets are the second primary source of microplastic pollution.

This pollution can be the result of one-off incidents such as recently off the coast of Sri Lanka, or of chronic, recurrent and continuous pollution, as is the case in Tarragona, where it is estimated that in 2019 there were up to 120 million pellets on the beach of La Pineda near the Tarragona petrochemical complex.

This year, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Good Karma Projects conducted a 10-day scientific expedition between Tarragona and the Balearic Islands, confirming that pellet pollution in the Mediterranean is widespread and alarming, and that solutions need to be found. The documentary was published on 10 September on Surfrider Spain’s YouTube platform.

As the documentary shows, during the expedition, pellet densities of up to 6250 pellets per m2 were found on the Cavalleria beach (Menorca, Biosphere Reserve). It is important to highlight the impact of this plastic pollution on fauna and flora, as well as on human health.

The European Commission is currently studying the possibility of adopting legislation to regulate the activities of the entire plastic pellet supply chain. This is why Surfrider Spain and Good Karma Projects have written a letter to Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, asking the European Commission for a binding regulatory framework to reduce pellet pollution.

Further info:

Surfrider Foundation Europe is an NGO founded in 1990 in Biarritz, dedicated to the protection of the oceans. It works mainly in 3 thematic areas (marine litter, coastal development or climate change and water quality) through 4 axes (education, science, volunteering and political advocacy). The state delegation (Surfrider Spain) works to transfer the social mission of the organisation to the state level.

Good Karma Projects is a non-profit organisation focused on developing educational and environmental awareness projects to promote respect and care for the environment.

The organisation was founded in 2017, in Tarragona, by two young engineers passionate about surfing and nature, with the aim of creating a community in continuous growth that can become the benchmark for the formation of small nuclei of environmental awareness and action..

Now is the time to slay the EU plastic waste dragon!

What: Plastic Waste Trade Action calling for full ban of EU plastic waste trade exports outside of its borders

Where: Between the Berlaymont and Justus Lipsius buildings at Schuman square, Brussels 1000

When: 29 September, 9:00-18:00 CET

Who:

  • Break Free From Plastic; Rethink Plastic alliance; Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA); European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Zero Waste Europe (full day)
  • European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius (17:15 – 17:45)
  • MEPs (time TBC)

Why and Context:
The 3 metre plastic waste dragon is coming back to the European quarter this September, and 36 MEPs and 61 organisations across the world agree that now is the time to slay it

Irresponsibly managed waste has no place in a circular economy. In 1950, the world produced 1.5 million tonnes of plasticIn 2019, the European Union (EU) shipped more than 1.7 million tonnes of plastic to third countries in the form of waste, mostly to Turkey, Malaysia and China. Not only does this demonstrate the EU’s longstanding inability to properly handle the incredibly high levels of plastic consumption and subsequent waste it produces but also the scale of negative impacts this has on receiving communities, and the planet. Not previously in the public eye, attention on this issue is finally gaining in traction across the globe.

Over the last 30 years more than a quarter of a billion tonnes of plastic waste has been legally traded around the world, with the European Union consistently being one of the largest plastic waste exporters in the world. Out of the top 10 plastic waste exporting countries in 2020, six were European Union Member States (Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy and Slovenia).

That’s why the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement, the Rethink Plastic alliance (RPa)Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), European Environmental Bureau, MEPs and supporting organisations agree the EU must address and resolve this issue, by enabling a ban on plastic waste exports outside of its borders, and ensuring that intra-EU management of plastic waste is fully in line with a genuine circular economy and current international agreements.

In October 2021, the European Commission will table a new proposal for the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, with the intent of better framing EU waste shipments through:

At this crucial juncture,  BFFP, RPa and its members will hold a full day street action, report launch and exhibition event in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, to urge the European Commission to propose a ban on plastic waste exports as part of an ambitious revised Waste Shipment Regulation.

Confirmed attendees include the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, MEPs and leading environmental NGOs, who will be present for a formal handover of Plastic Waste Trade Manifesto signatures to the European Commission around 17:15 CET.

This is a key opportunity for the media to cover one of the most pressing environmental justice issues of our generation; as such, we will dedicate a portion of the day to interviews with organisation representatives and key decision-makers alike. 


For more information and to confirm attendance/interviews, please contact:
Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator, Rethink Plastic alliance
news@rethinkplasticalliance.eu 

Berta Corredor, Press Officer, Zero Waste Europe, berta@zerowasteeurope.eu 

For more information see https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/the-plastic-waste-trade-manifesto/.

For visuals from this event, visit our Flickr channel.

Adequate and effective producer responsibility can help make sustainable products the norm, new report finds

A new report from the Ecologic Institute, commissioned by the Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement outlines why extended producer responsibility and “ecomodulation”- the incentivising of environmentally friendly products – can be a key opportunity for waste prevention across Europe. 

The European Commission committed to ensure only sustainable products are allowed on the EU market and is expected to propose a number of legislative measures in the Sustainable Products Initiative Policy by the end of the year.  

Extended producer responsibility, or EPR, is one such measure to make this a reality. Based on the ‘polluter pays principle’,   EPR schemes can ensure, if properly designed and implemented that the overall responsibility of a product’s entire lifecycle, from design to disposal, is shifted from taxpayer to producer. 

Ecomodulation, or charging differentiated fees based on the sustainability of a product, can incentivise producers to redesign their products and packaging and in turn, foster waste prevention and support the achievement of a toxic-free circular economy. 

The report offers a number of recommendations to make EPR ecomodulation an effective tool to make long lasting, reusable, toxic-free and recyclable products and packaging the norm ,  including:

  1. Harmonising product standards and ecomodulation criteria between European countries, and in line with the waste hierarchy
  2. Bridging fee incentives criteria under EPR  with eco-design criteria
  3. Expanding  the scope and cost coverage of EPR to include waste prevention measures
  4. Earmarking revenues for social economy actors such as reuse operators and research and development on circular designs and reuse systems. 
  5. Increasing data availability, transparency and access to information to consumers  

Blaine Camilleri, Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance commented:

“Redesigning products and packaging addresses the issue of waste at the most upstream source, and places responsibility there. The eco-modulation of EPR fees is an effective way of incentivising the re-design of products by making them more sustainable and circular, and shifting the focus of waste prevention to the design phase. EPR fees should reflect the true environmental costs of products and serve as a price signal for consumers to opt for sustainability when making their consumption choices.”

Italy reported to EU over plastics law failure

Environment experts have reported the Italian government to the EU authorities after its new law on single-use plastics was found to directly contradict EU legislation.

Restrictions in the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) apply to single-use plastics including those that are biodegradable or compostable. But the law adopted by the Italian Parliament – which is meant to directly echo the SUPD – alarmingly carves out exceptions for these plastics.

The final step to formally transpose the SUPD into Italian law must be taken by the government, but it is late – the deadline passed on 3 July. This also puts the country in contravention of EU law.

Environmental experts at Greenpeace Italy, ClientEarth, ECOS and the Rethink Plastic Alliance had already warned the environment ministry in May that its law would violate EU rules. They have now lodged an official complaint with the European Commission.

Giuseppe Ungherese, Greenpeace Italy’s toxics campaigner, said: “This law shows that Italy is clearly not committed to a genuine transition to a circular society. If we want to go beyond plastic and a single-use culture, we must avoid a simple material substitution”.

“The most sustainable approach is to support solutions based on refill and reuse. This was, after all, one of the main goals of the EU Directive, but the Italian government has unfortunately failed to comprehend this.”

Biodegradable plastics are being touted by industry marketers as the solution to plastic pollution. They only break down under very specific conditions – for example high temperatures, humidity and presence of micro-organisms – that won’t be met in most circumstances.

ClientEarth plastics lawyer Tatiana Luján said: “Biodegradable plastics are a false solution. They are only biodegradable with lots of caveats such as high temperatures. But if they end up at the bottom of the sea, we know those strict conditions won’t be met. The EU law is designed to start to wean EU countries off this dangerous culture of one-time use. Italian lawmakers have decided to disregard this essential aspect.”

The SUPD has been at the centre of discussions in Italy, with doubts being raised over its impact on Italian industry. However, the EU law was agreed two years ago with Italy’s green light.

Ungherese added: “The Italian government should have guided the industry through the transition, but instead has been focused on fighting EU rules that it had agreed on – this is detrimental to the environment and the Italian economy.”

Notes

The term “bioplastics” is used for two separate things: bio-based plastics (plastics made at least partly from biological matter) and biodegradable plastics (plastics that can be completely broken down by microbes in a reasonable timeframe, given specific conditions).

Italy has a 2-step process for the transposition:

  1. A law (sometimes referred to as “Delegation Act”) adopted in Parliament
  2. Administrative decrees adopted by the government

In this case, the Delegation Act was adopted in April 2021 and entered into force in May 2021. An administrative decree was meant to follow by 3 July, but the Italian government missed the deadline.

Nearly half of ‘green’ claims on plastic products could be misleading – A study of green claims on plastic products

Analysts from ECOS and the Rethink Plastic alliance have examined the claims made on 82 plastic items. Products studied include some of the most commonly found on beaches across Europe such as plastic bottles, bags and cutlery. 

In the absence of clear, specific legislation on ‘green’ claims, companies are free to use vague language, which can often be confusing and potentially mislead consumers. A stroll to any local supermarket is enough for anyone to find a myriad of ‘green’ claims on plastic products, then often found washed up on beaches.

Many of those statements are irrelevant to addressing the plastic crisis or supported by weak evidence, as shown in a study conducted by ECOS and the Rethink Plastic alliance on the ‘green’ claims displayed on 82 different products containing plastics or plastic packaging [1]. 

Main study results: 

  • 75% of the claims examined were self-made and not verified by independent third parties
  • 49% were potentially unclear to consumers as they did not provide sufficient information
  • 46% were irrelevant to addressing plastic pollution
  • 26% lacked supporting evidence and were therefore considered not reliable 
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Very-Green-Claimsecos-1024x576.png

Most claims found in the assessment related to the following characteristics of plastic products: reusable, recyclable, containing recycled material, biodegradable, compostable, and bio-based.

Analysts highlighted some of the worst examples they found:

–    ‘Reusable’ dishware: Cheap plastic glasses, cups, plates and silverware are sold as ‘reusable’ in supermarkets. This is due to the absence of clear standards on what can be referred to as reusable. Analysts concluded that clear definitions and criteria on what makes plastic items reusable are missing and needed.

–       Biodegradable bottles: A common false solution doing more harm than good to the environment. Beverage bottles are already widely recycled, and it is preferable for bottles to be produced from recyclable materials rather than promoting biodegradability. Advertising biodegradable bottles is environmentally counterproductive and irrelevant.

–      Biodegradable clothing: Products claiming to be biodegradable in landfill conditions. Such products, however, only incentivise the take-make-waste consumption models.

The full report can be found here: ‘Too good to be true? A study of green claims on plastic products’

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Recommendations to policymakers 

Greenwashing can be dramatically reduced if policymakers act. The study offers four recommendations to policymakers and standardisation organisations to put an end to unreliable ‘green’ claims:

1.   Eliminate all loose and stretchable definitions in legislation and standards 

2.       Set clear rules in legislation about what can and what cannot be claimed

3.       Strengthen enforcement of legislation and sanctions against greenwashing

4.       Make sustainable products the norm

Mathilde Crêpy, senior programme manager at ECOS, said:

‘Companies should innovate real product solutions and give people honest information. During this analysis, we have found lots of false solutions and gadget innovation where brands tell consumers they are acting to solve our environmental problems when they are not. We will not solve the plastic pollution crisis with artificial green labels.’

Justine Maillot, policy coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance, said 

‘EU decision-makers must act promptly to put an end to the harmful and ever-increasing wave of unregulated green claims, and hold companies accountable. Prohibiting unreliable, irrelevant and confusing information is a key component in allowing consumers to make informed choices, and to actually prevent plastic pollution and achieve a truly circular economy.’ 

Realising Reuse Report: reusable packaging target of 50% in key sectors could drastically reduce CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste

A reusable packaging target of 50% by 2030 in the EU for three key sectors could lead to the reduction of 3.7 million tonnes of CO2, 10 billion cubic metres of water and nearly 28 million tonnes of material, according to a new report from the Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement launched today.

That’s equivalent to CO2 absorption by 170 million mature trees, and the saving of nearly 4 million olympic swimming pools’ worth of water and nearly 3.5 million truckloads of material.

Based on a study conducted by Circular Economy Portugal, the report highlights the capacity for reuse to thrive with the right sector specific targets, policy frameworks, contributing significantly to circular economy and Paris Agreement objectives, while saving companies and consumers money. 

The study focuses on 3 sectors: 1) take-away food containers and cups, 2) mailing packaging for e-commerce clothing and accessories and 3) household care product containers used in large retail.

“Virtually all packaging sectors are currently dependent on single-use packaging, and this comes at a huge cost for the environment and for society,” Larissa Copello, Consumption and Production Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe commented. “If we look at case studies of  reusable systems for household products in the UK, France and Germany for example, we see there are numerous existing models that can be implemented to provide the best option for various scenarios.” 

In the absence of standards on how to design reusable packaging formats and run interoperable reuse systems, businesses face high unnecessary costs that make it difficult to compete with single-use. The EU could see  reusable packaging flourish if EU policy-makers finally agreed to set requirements for reusable packaging formats and systems, at great benefits to the environment and society.” added Samy Porteron, Programme Manager at the Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS).

“For decades European policies on packaging have been focused on end of pipe solutions and recycling. Consequently, reuse is at its lowest level and packaging waste at its highest level in history. If policy makers are committed to the circular economy its time reuse is taken seriously. The upcoming revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive presents an ideal opportunity to do this” commented Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Officer for Products and Circular Economy at the European Environmental Bureau.

Key recommendations include a 100% reusable target for eat-in consumption in the hotel, restaurant and catering sector, and a 75% reusable target for food takeaway and delivery, a rapidly growing industry which has seen a significant increase in single-use plastic production since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sector-specific targets, harmonising and simplifying packaging composition and formats, capping single-use plastic usage and investing public funds into research and development are also proposed. Some of these solutions are discussed today at the REUSE conference organised today by Environmental Action Germany (DUH), CEGROBB, Private Breweries Germany and Reloop. 

You can read the report, study and methodology via our resources page.

Single-use plastics pollution: where does Europe stand?

New reports show achievements and failures of governments across Europe and highlight growing initiatives to address the challenge.

Today, the Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement released two reports, an assessment of policy measures adopted by EU countries to phase out single-use plastic and a catalogue of best practices that can be replicated or scaled up to support the transition. They show that further ambition is urgently needed and come as the period for EU Member States to transpose the Single Use Plastics Directive comes to an end on 3 July 2021.  

The Single Use Plastic Implementation Assessment differentiates between top performers (highlighted in green) and Member States lagging behind (in orange and red) in implementing the mandatory EU measures to curb plastic pollution.

Estonia, France, Greece, and Sweden are examples of countries on a strong track for the implementation of the Directive, while Bulgaria and Poland are just some of many Member States which need to urgently scale up their efforts.

While the level of ambition varies significantly across EU Member States, it remains overall insufficient to ensure Europe actually moves away from single-use and towards a circular economy. 

The Seas at Risk Best Practices report and interactive multilingual map, link EU policy measures with effective and concrete solutions, offering over 150 best practices to reduce and phase out single use plastics. The provided solutions have already proved to be effective, easy to replicate in other regions or to develop on a wider scale. They aim to encourage public authorities, businesses, schools, local communities and consumers to reduce single-use plastics and support Member states in implementing the Directive and go beyond.

To curb plastic pollution, the EU adopted in 2019 the Single-Use Plastics Directive that requires EU countries to implement a number of measures including: banning several single-use plastic items, including plates, straws and cutlery, by 3 July 2021; putting in place extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes and single-use plastics marking requirements; adopting measures to achieve consumption reduction for single-use plastic cups and food containers; and by 2029, achieving 90% separate collection on single-use plastic bottles. Based on the assessment of European and national NGOs, the first report released today reveals the performance of all EU Member States plus Norway in transposing the Single-Use Plastics Directive into their national law. 

Gaëlle Haut, EU affairs project manager at Surfrider Europe said: “The effective and complete transposition of the Single-Use Plastic Directive is still missing in many EU countries. The measures laid down in the Directive are minimum requirements to be achieved and built upon. To achieve the 50% reduction target of plastic litter at sea, it’s urgent all these measures are transposed and enforced. Best performing States are showing that, with political will, great ambition and timely transposition can go hand in hand”. 

Larissa Copello, Consumption and Production Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe added: “Half-hearted measures, such as material substitution or cosmetic legislative change, will not allow to achieve a truly circular economy across Europe. It is urgent to redesign both products and distribution systems, and decision-makers can drive this systemic change by adopting a combination of measures such as consumption reduction targets, reuse quotas, harmonised packaging formats and deposit return schemes.  

Frédérique Mongodin, Senior Marine Litter Policy Officer At Seas At Risk said: “Single-use plastic is the symbol of today’s throw-away society and phasing them out constitutes an obvious first step to fight plastic pollution. Yet we cannot rely on the sole political will of national governments. We need bold and effective actions from across society to drive a wave of change. The solutions we have collected are meant to inspire new ways of living and consuming that are more respectful of our ocean, our planet and ourselves.” 

Italian Company Caught Illegally Dumping Plastic and other Municipal Waste in Tunisia

Réseau Tunisie Verte | Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) | Basel Action Network (BAN) | Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) | European Environmental Bureau (EEB) | Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) | Greenpeace MENA | Rethink Plastic alliance (RPa) | International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN)

For immediate release Brussels, March 3, 2021

International, European, Italian and Tunisian environmental groups have joined in demanding the immediate return of 282 containers full of mixed municipal waste that were illegally exported from Italy’s Campania region to the Port of Sousse in Tunisia between May and July 2020. According to the environmental organizations, the exports violated European Union law, Tunisian law as well as international waste trade treaties — the Basel Convention, the Bamako Convention and the Izmir Protocol of the Barcelona Convention. A short report shows how weaknesses in EU regulations may have contributed to this waste being exported for disposal under the cover of recycling. Under the terms of international and EU laws, Italy should have returned the shipments many months ago.  

Indeed, the Italian Administrative Region of Campania has already demanded that the exporting company Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali (SRA) return the waste at their own cost. SRA reportedly appealed this request to an administrative court in Naples and the court ruled it has no jurisdiction to counter the regional demand. Regardless, the responsibility to enforce the international rules lies ultimately with the Italian national government. 

“We fail to understand why Italy has not moved decisively to resolve this case and have these unwanted wastes returned,” said Ms. Semia Gharbi of Réseau Tunisie Verte, in Tunis. “We cannot wait indefinitely. We, therefore, call upon the European Commission to get involved and take the necessary actions to ensure that Italy fulfills its clear legal obligations. Tunisia is not Europe’s dumping ground!”

Tunisia is a Party to the Bamako Convention and the Izmir Protocol of the Barcelona Convention. Both of these agreements make it illegal for Tunisia to import wastes collected from households. And at the same time, Italy’s obligations under the Basel Convention and the European Waste Shipment Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006) require them to not approve of any exports to countries which have banned the import of such wastes. The shipments are therefore considered as illegal traffic under the Basel Convention and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation that implements that treaty in the European Union. 

Illegal traffic under these rules is a criminal act. Shipments that are illegal due to the fault of the exporter, as is the case in this instance, must be taken back by the exporting state within 30 days from the time the exporting state was made aware of the illegal shipment, or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally sound manner under the direction of the exporting country.

“Italy was made aware of the illegal shipment by the Tunisian government on 9 December 2020,” said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network (BAN). “They are therefore nearly two months overdue in acting as required by law.  This is unacceptable.  We call upon the European Commission to take the necessary action to ensure compliance.”

“Italy ought to take responsibility for preventing and managing its own municipal waste, rather than exporting its problems to Tunisia”, said Sirine Rached of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). “Every additional day of delayed repatriation adds to this injustice”.

“This type of trade is immoral and environmentally destructive, it is not acceptable to import waste from Italy to Tunisia for landfilling. Landfilling of waste can generate toxic leaching and contribute to the degradation of human health and the environment,” added Mohammed Tazrout, campaigner for Greenpeace Middle-East and North Africa. 

“This is another striking example of a weakness in European legislation and enforcement causing ethical and environmental harm to others” said Pierre Condamine, waste policy officer at Zero Waste Europe. “The first clear and immediate step is for Italy to repatriate the shipment. The following step should be to fix and properly enforce, EU legislation to avoid doing any more harm.” 

ENDS


Read the Rethink Plastic alliance’s recommendations for the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation to reduce harm caused from Waste Trade.

Bales of Italian waste exported to Tunisia by Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali, photographed during a visit by Tunisian legislators and journalists to the port of Sousse in December 2020 (Credits: Hamdi Chebaane).

Press contacts:

Jim Puckett, Executive Director, Basel Action Network, jpuckett@ban.org, +1 (206) 652-5555

Semia Gharbi, Réseau Tunisie Verte, semia.tgharbi@gmail.com, +216 98 997 350

Ana Oliveira, Zero Waste Europe, ana@zerowasteeurope.eu, +32 (0) 485 986 111

Major loopholes found in new EU plan to ban microplastic

25 February 2021, Brussels

EU plans to stop firms adding microplastic to almost all products have major loopholes that would keep pollution flooding into the environment for nearly a decade and reward unproven biodegradable plastics, environmental groups are warning.

The European Commission has pledged to ban microplastic from cosmetics, paints, detergents, some farm, medical and other products to prevent 500,000 tonnes polluting mostly rivers and seas. The legal process moved forward on Tuesday when a detailed proposal was presented by ECHA to the Commission. The legal restriction is expected to become law next year.

But following industry lobbying, the proposal has major loopholes, according to the Rethink Plastic alliance of environmental groups. Some sectors could get up to 8 years to drop microplastic while ‘biodegradable’ microplastic that has not been shown to degrade in the environment could escape the ban. The 500,000 tonnes target will be impossible to achieve unless the proposal is improved, they calculated.

“Microplastic pollution is everywhere: in our drinking water, our fields, filling the air in cities and even inside our bodies. The EU is right to build on its reputation of tackling plastic pollution with this new ban. But it must avoid being sidetracked by industry-sponsored loopholes. We want a quick and broad restriction with no green light for unproven biodegradable plastic.”

European Environmental Bureau chemicals policy officer Elise Vitali

“The EU promised to turn off the taps on microplastic pollution. Take sport pitches – it’s a gigantic source of microplastics pollution and it’s now up to the Commission to make sure that a full ban is in order. When it comes to cosmetics – another well-known source of this pollution – the Commission needs to reject the lenient proposal that would give the cosmetics industry a free pass to continue business as usual until 2028, even where alternatives are available.”

Hélène Duguy, chemicals lawyer at ClientEarth

Microplastic pollution is irreversible and causes considerable harm to the environment, with potential grave consequences for humans. EU scientific advisors have recognised that microplastics pose an unacceptable risk, which justifies a comprehensive ban.

The groups are urging the Commission to adopt a broad restriction that covers all microplastics in all sectors and uses.

The proposal is now in the hands of the Commission’s industry department, which has not always shown ambition on chemicals policy, the NGOs said. The Commission has until end of May 2021 to draft the restriction text, which will then go to a vote of member state experts. The European Parliament and Council of Ministers then have three months to object, but rarely do. 

Ends

For more details, click here. For details on ECHA’s proposal and further comment please get in touch using the supplied contacts. 

Contacts

Hélène Duguy, ClientEarth, hduguy@clientearth.org +33 (0) 6 68 74 72 32

Élise Vitali, European Environmental Bureau, elise.vitali@eeb.org + 32 456 164 678

Jack Hunter, European Environmental Bureau, jack.hunter@eeb.org +33 (0) 7 51 05 18 05  

Rethink Plastic, part of the Break Free From Plastic movement, is an alliance of leading European NGOs working towards ambitious EU policies on plastics. It brings together the Center for International Environmental Law, ClientEarth, Environmental Investigation Agency , European Environmental Bureau , European Environmental Citizen’s Organisation for Standardisation, Greenpeace, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, and Zero Waste Europe. Together they represent thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State working towards a future free from plastic pollution.