The countdown of microplastics

The past year 2023 brought us many regulatory changes, one of which was regarding microplastics. Do you remember?

If you want to make sure you haven’t missed any, we suggest you read this article, where we summarize the most important ones for you.

With each regulatory change, it’s normal for many doubts to arise. And, as we know that it’s essential for you that your products comply with all legal obligations and administrative procedures, let us ask you: do you fancy a review on microplastics?

In September 2023, Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 was published. This regulation modified Annex XVII of Regulation REACH (EC) 1907/2006 regarding synthetic polymer microparticles.

In February 2024, a guide on the restriction of microplastics in the European Union (EU) was published. Although it’s not an official document, it serves as a helpful tool for correctly applying Regulation (EU) 2023/2055.

So, read carefully, and if you have any doubts, remember that at Sigillum, we know how to resolve them.

What are microplastics?

In broad terms, they are small fragments of synthetic polymers, less than 5 mm, insoluble in water, and that degrade very slowly. This implies that they are practically impossible to remove from the environment. According to Regulation (EU) 2023/2055, this is their exact definition:

They are solid polymers that either are contained in particles and constitute at least 1% by weight of such particles, or form a continuous coating on the surface of the particles when at least 1% by weight of such particles meets any of the following conditions:

  1. All dimensions of the particles are equal to or less than 5mm.
  2. The length of the particles is equal to or less than 15mm, and their length/diameter ratio is greater than 3.

Identifying them correctly is a priority to reduce their impact on the environment and human health. The guide on the restriction of microplastics will be a great tool to do so.

What is the problem with microplastics?

Due to their low degradability and small size, three major problems are identified:

  1. They accumulate in the environment and contribute to its pollution. The presence of microplastics in the sea is especially concerning.
  2. They are easily ingested by living organisms.
  3. They raise concerns for human health, as they have been detected in drinking water and food.

Although most of them are produced unintentionally, some are intentionally added to products.

For this reason, the Council asked the Commission to propose an action plan to reduce the discharge of microplastics. In addition, the inclusion of a ban on the use of such polymers in cosmetics, personal care products, and detergents was requested.

With the Green Deal, the circular economy action plan, and the “zero pollution” action plan, the aim is to reduce the amount of microplastics by 30% by 2030.

What did the approval of Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 entail?

Approved in September 2023, with a more precise definition of microplastics (which we saw at the beginning of this article) and with transitional periods for their prohibition, the countdown began for compliance.

In addition, it was established that, in case the products contain such microplastics, and at the request of the authorities, manufacturers, importers, and intermediate industrial users must provide specific information. This information must unequivocally identify the polymers and their function in the product.

Degradable or water-soluble polymers, and natural polymers that have not been chemically modified, are excluded because they do not have the same long-term persistence and therefore do not contribute to environmental and health risks.

In the case of claiming exclusion due to degradability or solubility, these properties must be demonstrated using the methods established in Appendices 15 and 16, which are shown in Regulation (EU) 2023/2055.

Finally, products introduced to the market from October 17, 2023, are subject to this regulation. While products introduced before this date are not.

Now, let’s see the restrictions, prohibitions, and transition periods established:


Ban Date

Cosmetic products containing microspheres

16/10/2023 (currently ban)

Rinse off cosmetics containing synthetic polymer microparticles


Leave-on cosmetics containing synthetic polymer microparticles, except those applied on lips, nails, and makeup.


Fragrances encapsulated with synthetic polymer microparticles.


Leave-on cosmetics containing synthetic polymer microparticles applied on lips, nails, and makeup* 17/10/2035

*Products that are introduced to the market from 17/10/2031 until their prohibition on 16/10/2035 must include the phrase “contains microplastics” on the label. Those already on the market must include it from 17/12/2031.

How does the guide you mentioned help me?

It’s a guide that will be updated and will help you with the following points:

  • The definition of synthetic polymer microparticles (SPM).
  • Included substances (SPM), not included, or losing their properties as SPM.
  • Transition periods.
  • Information requirements.
  • Instructions for use and disposal (IFUD) for products containing SPM and whose physical properties are permanently modified during final use. Additionally, they recommend adding the message “Do not rinse the container before disposing of it” and including the following pictogram:

  • A diagram showing the steps to determine if your polymer is an SPM.
  • Frequently asked questions and their answers.

How can you help me from Sigillum?

We can advise you on the interpretation and definition of requirements and obligations arising from Regulation (EU) 2023/2055, regardless of your activity in the value chain.

Likewise, we also advise you on the assessment of requirements and obligations for compliance with REACH regulation, cosmetic products regulation 1223/2009, and classification of hazards and labelling according to CLP.

Don’t hesitate anymore, and contact us here!