Public Consultation Opens Up on a Proposed Restriction of Intentionally Added Microplastics

Public Consultation Opens Up on a Proposed Restriction of Intentionally Added Microplastics

Microplastics have gained increasing publicity over recent years due to their potential impact on marine life and their detection in the human food chain. A consequence of humans’ longstanding reliance on plastic, the concentration of microplastics in everything from oceans to tap water will continue to increase over the coming decades. Microplastics act as sponges, absorbing persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from water, where fish and other microorganisms ingest them, enabling the microplastics to travel through the aquatic food chain.

In 2018, as a result of an investigation into these concerns, the European Commission proposed a ban on microplastics that are intentionally added to consumer and professional goods by 2020. As a result, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a public consultation on the proposed restrictions. The consultation will run from March 20, 2019, to May 20, 2019.

The proposed ban by the European Commission specifically targets microplastics defined as “any polymer, or polymer-containing, solid or semi-solid particle having a size of 5 mm or less in at least one external dimension.” Transitional arrangements will occur progressively over a six-year period, from the time the ban enters into force.

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Derogations have been proposed for polymers that occur in nature; polymers that meet criteria for minimum (bio)degradability; use of microplastics at industrial sites; and certain uses by consumers or professionals that would not inevitably lead to a release of microplastics into the environment. These derogations may require additional one-time or annual disclosure to the ECHA, such as packaging and safety data sheets.

Individuals, organizations, institutions or Member State Competent Authorities can comment on the consultation until May 2019.

As the ECHA finalizes its restriction on microplastics under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, companies should be aware of products that may be in scope, and where microplastics are used in those products. This will help mitigate the risk of losing future market access when restrictions on microplastics come into force. Assent’s Full Material Disclosure Module allows companies to gain a complete view of their products’ composition, and easily report on the presence of specific substances.

To learn more about how Assent can help you gain visibility into your products, contact us at