One year after the European Commission asked ECHA (European Chemical Agency) to act on microplastics, it has presented its proposal, focused on the restriction of this type of particles when they are intentionally added to products.
Microplastics are very small particles of plastic material (usually less than 5 mm) that can be formed unintentionally by the wearing of larger pieces of plastic – such as synthetic textiles – but which can also be deliberately manufactured and purposely added to products for a specific purpose, for example, as exfoliating particles in facial or body exfoliating creams, or as a make-up shine. Although conclusive data on its possible effects on human health are not available, the truth is that once released into the environment, microplastics can be ingested and accumulated by animals, and, consequently, enter the food chain.
If this proposal is adopted – currently under review by the scientific committees and for which a public consultation will be opened later – this restriction could reduce the amount of microplastics released to the environment in the European Union by more than 400,000 tons in the next 20 years.
The purposely added microplastic particles are used in numerous products, from cosmetics and personal care products to detergents, cleaning products, paints or products of the oil and gas industry, so, if approved, this proposal would have an impact on numerous sectors.