After yet another container loss, the shores of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria (Spain), along the Atlantic coast, are under siege from a relentless tide of microplastics. Those small particles washing ashore are plastic pellets, which are the raw material used to manufacture all plastic items.
Plastic pellets, whether derived from virgin material, recycled sources or biomass, constitute the primary building blocks for the majority of plastic products. The European Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation on preventing pellet losses to reduce microplastic pollution represents a necessary step towards addressing plastic pollution and the associated harms to human health and the environment. Plastic pellets, flakes, dust and powders are tiny and hazardous microplastics spilled and lost across the plastic supply chain, contributing to widespread, chronic and avoidable pollution impacting every EU country surveyed1. Effectively preventing pellet loss requires a comprehensive supply chain approach, applying measures to all operators at every stage of the supply chain.
The exponential expansion of the production of raw plastic materials since 2005 has resulted in increased waste generation and over 170 trillion plastic particles in the world’s oceans. Virtually all plastic products are derived from plastic pellets, flakes and powders (hereinafter referred to simply as pellets), meaning the transboundary shipment of pellets has also drastically expanded. Due to pellets’ size and current handling across the supply chain, they often end up in the environment and are one of the largest sources of primary microplastic pollution. In response, the European Union (EU) should take all necessary steps to regulate plastic pellets across the plastic supply chain and effectively reduce the amount of pellets that end up in the environment.
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