Recently, in a significant move to safeguard the environment, the European Commission has adopted measures to restrict the intentional addition of microplastics to products under the EU chemical legislation known as REACH. These new rules are set to prevent the release of approximately half a million tonnes of microplastics into the environment. They aim to prohibit the sale of microplastics themselves, as well as products that intentionally incorporate microplastics and subsequently release them during use. Derogations and transition periods will be granted to affected parties to facilitate their adjustment to the new regulations.
The adopted restriction encompasses a broad definition of microplastics, encompassing all organic, insoluble synthetic polymer particles measuring below five millimeters that resist degradation. The objective is to minimize emissions of intentional microplastics from a wide range of products, including cosmetics, where microplastics are utilized for various purposes such as exfoliation (in the form of microbeads) or to achieve specific textures, fragrances, or colors.
The initial measures, such as the ban on loose glitter and microbeads, will come into effect within 20 days of the restriction being implemented. In other cases, the sales ban will be enforced after a longer period, allowing affected stakeholders the necessary time to develop and transition to alternative solutions.
By implementing these restrictions on intentionally added microplastics, the European Commission demonstrates its commitment to tackling the environmental challenges posed by these persistent and harmful particles. This proactive approach will not only contribute to the reduction of microplastic pollution but also pave the way for the adoption of sustainable alternatives across various industries, fostering a cleaner and more sustainable future.