The EU has published Regulation 2023/2055, which amends Annex XVII of REACH Regulation 1907/2006. The regulation will take effect on October 17. It bans the placing on the market of microplastics in all uses – with the exceptions mentioned below – and sets different transition periods for this.
As of October 17, for example, the marketing of “microbeads” added to cosmetics for exfoliation, polishing, or cleansing will be banned. The same applies to loose glitter.
On the other hand, owners and operators of artificial turf fields and other sports facilities will be granted a transition period of eight years. Within this period, they are obligated to find alternatives for the plastic granules scattered on the pitches. That’s where the EU sees the main source for the release of microplastics into the environment.
The sales ban does not affect products:
- That contain microplastics but whose release can be reduced to a minimum – building materials, for example.
- That are used at industrial sites or whose use does not release microplastics. However, manufacturers must provide instructions on how to use and dispose of products to avoid the emission of microplastics.
Products already covered by other EU legislation, such as pharmaceuticals, food, and feed are also exempt from the regulation’s provisions.
The restriction applies to all synthetic polymer microparticles less than 5 mm in size and to fiber-like particles less than 15 mm in length. The lower limit for the size of synthetic polymer microparticles has been set at 0.1 μm and at 0.3 μm for fiber-like particles.
With the ban, the EU hopes to reduce microplastic emissions by 500,000 tons over the next 20 years. In the EU alone, some 42,000 tons of microplastics are added to products every year. The cost of switching to other materials over the next 20 years is estimated by the EU at about €19 billion.
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