The European Commission published this Monday new rules that will prohibit the sale throughout the European Union of products such as cosmetics such as glitter, detergents, toys and medicines that contain intentionally added microplastics and that are released during use.
These standards will prevent the release of nearly half a million tons of microplastics into the environment. Where duly justified, exceptions and transitional periods will be applied to allow affected parties to adapt to the new rules.
The restriction uses a broad definition of microplastics, covering all synthetic polymer particles smaller than five millimeters that are organic, insoluble and resistant to degradation. The objective of the Community Executive is to reduce intentional microplastic emissions from as many products as possible.
An example of a product included in the scope of the restriction is granular filler material used in synthetic sports surfaces, the largest source of intentional microplastics in the environment. Others are cosmetics in which microplastics are used for multiple uses such as exfoliation (microspheres) or obtaining a specific texture, fragrance or color.
The same goes for detergents, fabric softeners, glitter, fertilizers, phytosanitary products, toys, medicines and health products, to name just a few. Products used in industrial sites or that do not release microplastics during use are exempt from the sales ban, but their manufacturers will have to provide instructions on how to use and dispose of the product to avoid emissions of small plastic parts.
The first measures (for example, the ban on non-stick glitter and microbeads) will begin to apply when the restriction comes into force, in 20 days. In other cases, the sales ban will be applied after a longer period to give affected parties time to develop alternatives and implement them.