EU Adopts the Restriction of Intentionally Added Microplastics to Products under REACH
Vol. 1379 | 05 Oct 2023
On September 25th, 2023, the EU Commission published EU 2023/2055, adopting measures to restrict the release of intentionally added microplastics to certain products. These small pieces (typically less than 5mm that are organic, insoluble and resist degradation as well as fibre-like particles below 15 mm in length) are called microplastics and they are of concern.
The new rules will prevent the release to the environment of about half a million tons of microplastics. They will prohibit the sale of microplastics as such, and of products to which microplastics have been added on purpose and that release those microplastics when used. When duly justified, derogations and transition periods for the affected parties to adjust to the new rules apply.
Due to concerns on the environment and on people's health, several EU Member States have already enacted or proposed national bans on intentional uses of microplastics in consumer products. These bans concern mainly the use of microbeads in cosmetics that are rinsed off after use, where the microplastics are used as abrasive and polishing agents.
Once in the environment, microplastics do not biodegrade. They accumulate in animals, including fish and shellfish, and are consequently also consumed as food by humans.
Scope of the restriction
Some examples of common products in the scope of the restriction are:
- The granular infill material used on artificial sport surfaces – the largest source of intentional microplastics in the environment.
- Cosmetics, where microplastics is used for multiple purposes, such as exfoliation (microbeads) or obtaining a specific texture, fragrance or colour.
- Detergents, fabric softeners, glitter, fertilisers, plant protection products, toys, medicines, and medical devices, just to name a few.
The first measures, will be a ban on loose glitter and microbeads, starting from 17th October 2023, when the restriction enters into force. In other cases, the sales ban will apply after a longer period to give affected stakeholders the time to develop and switch to alternatives.
To prevent unnecessary product recalls and reduce waste, it is necessary to provide that synthetic polymers microparticles, on their own or in mixtures, that have been placed on the market before 17 October 2023 may continue to be placed on the market.
Link to the regulation: EU 2023/2055
If you have further questions, please contact our technical expert Dave Smith (email@example.com).
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