Plastics make our lives easier in many ways and are often lighter or cost less than alternative materials. Although plastic is an important material in our everyday life, this type of waste is increasing rapidly.
If the plastic is not properly disposed of or recycled, it may end up in the environment where they stay for centuries and degrade into smaller and smaller pieces. These small pieces (typically smaller than 5mm) are called microplastics and they are of concern.
Microplastics are intentionally added to a range of products including fertilizers, plant protection products, cosmetics, household, and industrial detergents, cleaning products, paints, and products used in the oil and gas industry.
As the EU vision highlights moving towards a more sustainable plastics economy, all players in the supply chain need to play a role.
In 2017, the European Commission requested ECHA to assess the scientific evidence for taking regulatory action at the EU level on microplastics that are intentionally added to products, and in January 2019, ECHA proposed a wide-ranging restriction on microplastics in products placed on the EU/EEA market to avoid or reduce their release to the environment.
ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) adopted its opinion in June 2020 and the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) adopted its opinion in December 2020.
The Commission has prepared its draft regulation following ECHA’s report and the committees’ combined opinion. This was published on in 30th August 2022 and was discussed for the first time with the Member States in the REACH Committee on 23 September 2022.
Annex XVII of REACH Regulation will be amended restricting synthetic polymer microparticles, polymers that are solid and which either are contained in particles and constitute at least 1 % by weight of those particles, or build a continuous surface coating on particles, where at least 1 % by weight of those particles fulfilling different conditions listed.
Also excludes different polymers that are the result of a polymerization process that has taken place in nature, which are not chemically modified substances; degradable polymers, polymers with solubility greater than 2 g/L, and polymers that do not contain carbon atoms in their chemical structure.
An appendix of the amendment lays down the rules for proving the degradability of polymers, publishing different methods to ensure compliance with the different restrictions, and shall be conducted by laboratories complying with the principles of good laboratory practice provided for in Directive 2004/10/EC or other international standards recognized as being equivalent by the Commission or the Agency or accredited to ISO 17025.
For more information and details, see the complete draft regulation at: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/comitology-register/screen/documents/083921/1/consult?lang=en