Intentionally added microplastic particles
Microplastics (usually of a size less than 5 mm) are tiny plastic particles manufactured and intentionally added to some products to perform a concrete function, like abrasion.
Some of these particles get washed away during use and may end up in waterways and aquatic organisms.
A potential impact of these particles on the marine environment has recently become the subject of much discussion. As a result, the European Commission has decided to limit the use of intentionally added microplastic particles in a variety of chemical substances.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published a regulatory measure (Annex XV REACH Restriction dossier proposal) concerning the use of intentionally added microplastic particles in consumer or professional products and applications.
Working to develop solutions
Ensuring the safety of chemicals for human health and environment is the industry’s primary concern.
The chemical industry is committed to working with the European Commission, ECHA and member states to tackle this issue and to developing solutions for those cases where the negative impact of microplastics on the environment has been identified.
There are still many grey areas when it comes to assessing the impact of intentionally added microplastics on the environment. The chemical industry is currently working on the development of methodologies for assessing risks associated with microplastics. For example, the Cefic Long Range Research programme has recently launched two projects (LRI-ECO48 and LRI-ECO49) related to microplastics. The goal of these projects is to provide data for a robust risk assessment to help analyse the impact of these particles on the environment and develop an appropriate solution.
Cefic calls for a regulatory measure that is proportionate to the amount of intentionally added microplastics present in the environment, is based on the latest scientific evidence on the hazards and risks associated with intentionally added microplastics, and brings the most benefit to environmental protection.