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Pollution | 16th November 2020

The road to an effective EU restriction of intentionally-added microplastics
Pollution
Wildlife & habitats
Chemicals
Plastics

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The road to an effective EU restriction of intentionally-added microplastics

In 2019, upon request from the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) submitted a proposal for restricting the use of intentionally added microplastic particles to consumer or professional products of any kind. This restriction has the potential to significantly reduce the quantity of microplastics emitted into the environment, with subsequent positive effects on ecosystems and human health. It may stand as a crucial precedent in the fight against microplastic pollution, and other toxic chemicals. Beyond environmental considerations, the restriction has the potential to level the playing field for the providers of microplastic-free products, and open a new market for alternative providers.

A truly ambitious EU restriction of intentionally-added microplastics is within reach, but critical
concerns remain to be addressed. Too many derogations, some of them unsubstantiated, unclear wording or lengthy transitional periods risk jeopardising the overall effectiveness of the restriction. The review of the restriction by ECHA’s Committees is nearly finished. Once completed,
the European Commission and the Member States have the power to fix the remaining issues, identified or neglected by the Committees, in line with the REACH Regulation and the Green Deal commitments.

This position paper invites decision-makers to defend an ambitious restriction and recommends the actions that the Commission and the Member States must take to secure this outcome.

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