Towards the end of microplastics added in our products?

23/09/22

For years, Surfrider Europe has called for this from European institutions and today, more than ever, we are getting closer to this goal!   

For what purpose are microplastics added to our daily products?  

At a time when consumers are increasingly sensitive to the plastic found in the packaging of their products, another source of pollution is still insufficiently known: microplastics intentionally added.   

Indeed, manufacturers have a strong tendancy to add microplastics in many products, including cosmetics and detergents (toothpaste, eye shadow, laundry detergent ...) often using as an excuse the advantages provided in terms of texture.    

Microplastics are also used as filling materials in the manufacture and maintenance of artificial sports pitches.   

Of course, it is not worth the consequences, since the use and wear of these products strongly contribute to the loss and diffusion of microplastics. These will spread in our environment and aquatic environments, which can then be ingested by wildlife and contaminate our food chain.   

This continuous flow adds to a massive and growing plastic pollution, since it is considered that there are now 500 times more microplastics in the ocean than stars in our galaxy. It is time to act at the source!  

Progress at the European level   

As usual, we strongly believe that the best solution is prevention. If these microplastics are deliberately manufactured and then intentionally added, they can and should be avoided.   

For years, we have been working to spread this message to the European institutions that have the power to take strong measures to curb this pollution.   

The European Commission has finally released its long-awaited proposal to restrict this type of microplastics within the framework of the REACH regulation - an initiative that we welcome!   


However, there is still work to be done! Indeed, if the intentional addition of microplastics is no longer allowed, the ban proposed by the Commission remains a partial success:  

Polymers (main constituents of microplastics) with certain properties, biodegradable, liquid and soluble, continue to be allowed - even though they present the same risks as "conventional" microplastics  

Nanoplastics will not be firmly banned - this would give industries the opportunity to replace microplastics with... nanoplastics   

The time frame for some industries to comply with this ban will be far too long, with for example up to 12 years granted to remove these microplastics from makeup composition - while these industries regularly communicate on the innovation in their formulations and have known about the dangers for years.  

What's next?   

Along with more than 35 organizations belonging to the Rethink Plastic Alliance and the Break Free From Plastic Coalition, Surfrider has sent a letter to the REACH committee reviewing this proposed restriction - at whose table sit representatives of EU member states.   

We ask that for clarification on the gaps and loopholes in the European regulation. In particular, it is important to prevent manufacturers from taking advantage of the current exemptions from the ban to use alternatives that would be just as, or even more, damaging to our environment. For example, microplastics must be replaced by natural substances sustainably sourced or artificial materials whose environmental impact has been assessed.   

As plastic and microplastic pollution of our ocean continue to rise, it is high time to limit pollution where decision makers can take direct and concrete action.   

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