Vol. 1398 | 06 Mar 2024

In September 2023, the EU published a new regulation aimed at restricting the use of intentionally added microplastics. The Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 specifically targets synthetic polymer microparticles, commonly known as microplastics. These microplastics can either exist as substances on their own or intentionally added to mixtures. This regulation is significant in addressing the environmental concerns associated with microplastics pollution. The new regulation came into force on October 17th, 2023.

While the commission services are still working on a detailed Q&A document to assist stakeholders with the implementation of the new rules, the EU technical services have issued their latest thinking on certain aspect of the restrictions including plastic glitter on its own (Loose plastic glitter) and in products.

Latest current thinking highlights include:

  • Articles with glitter affixed on their surface do not fall within the scope of the restriction.
  • Plastic glitter on its own (Loose plastic glitter) is to be regarded as a mixture under REACH and is therefore within the scope of the restriction.
  • Only certain types and uses of glitter are concerned, depending on what the glitter is made of, what is used for and whether it is loose or trapped inside an object. Also, products already on the market - e.g. products on shelves or in suppliers’ stocks - can continue being sold until stocks run out.
  • Only glitter made of non-biodegradable, insoluble plastic is concerned. Biodegradable, soluble, natural or inorganic glitter is not considered microplastics, so it is out of scope of the restriction and can continue being sold.
  • Only the sale of (non-biodegradable, insoluble) plastic glitter for uses that are not exempted or do not have a transitional period are concerned by the sale ban, for example art and crafts, toys, textiles (with certain exceptions). Glitter used in cosmetics and detergents (and for other uses benefiting from a specific transitional period under paragraph 6 of the restriction) can continue being sold until the end of that period.
  • Loose plastic glitter for uses without a transitional period - such as art and crafts, toys - is banned as of 17 October 2023 (unless biodegradable or soluble or otherwise degraded). However, plastic glitter is not affected by the ban if it is contained by technical means, forms solid films (e.g. paints, certain inks) or, during end use, it is permanently incorporated in a solid matrix (e.g. glitter glue).

Exceptions to the restrictions

  • Products, including glitter, made of material that is inorganic (e.g. glass, metal), natural, biodegradable or soluble in water (out of scope because they are not regarded as microplastics)
  • Beads and sequins (and other decorations) intended to be threaded or sewn (articles; not in scope)
  • Microplastics, including plastic glitter, that contained by technical means or lose their microplastics nature when used, permanently incorporated in a solid matrix (e.g. trapped in glue, paints or certain inks, or inside solid objects) (derogated under paragraph 5)
  • Products that are articles under REACH
  • Products already on the market on 17th October 2023

Finally, its important to note the following for certain :

  • If a large bag of plastic glitter (or other microplastics) is bought before 17 October 2023 but is repackaged into a new product (such as a smaller pack), the new product would have needed to have been placed on the market before 17 October to continue to be sold.

Link to the regulation: EU 2023/2055

Link to the latest guidance: Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 - Restriction of microplastics intentionally added to products

For more details, please contact our technical experts Rob Burton (rob.burton@intertek.com) or Ayyapan Kandaswamy (ayyappan.kandaswamy@intertek.com).


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