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ClientEarth, together with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), participated to the call for evidence organised by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), regarding a potential restriction on microplastics (intentionally added to products).
The evidence submitted supports the need for a restriction to be adopted at EU level, to protect human health and the environment from this pollution. According to a 2017 IUCN report, microplastics could indeed contribute up to 30% of the ‘plastic soup’ polluting the world’s oceans and, in many developed countries, are a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than the more visible larger pieces of marine litter. We also raised our concerns about ECHA’s objectivity in handling this call for evidence - considering the multiple invitations it has made to companies intentionally adding microplastics to their products - to submit evidence showing their need for derogations.
We will follow the next steps closely; ECHA must decide by January 2019, on the basis of the evidence submitted and its own research, whether to make a restriction proposal. The restriction proposal would then be submitted to ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee and Socioeconomic Assessment Committee, who will have to provide their scientific opinions by January 2020.