ECHA:“Microplastics accumulate in soil and waterways”

Amsterdam, 23 November 2018 – According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) microplastics are much more likely to accumulate in soil and waterways than in oceans. Commissioned by the European Commission, ECHA collects and analyses information about the risks to the environment and health caused by intentionally added microplastics in products.

Early next year ECHA will publish a report with recommendations for measures on the basis of which the European Commission can decide to prohibit manufacturers adding microplastics to their products. A restriction on their use is then regulated under REACH. Currently polymers are exempted from the REACH procedure for admission of products on the European market.

ECHA presented its initial findings at a press conference: there is abundant evidence that microplastics have invaded food chains, that they accumulate in the environment and that they do not degrade. It is difficult to tackle this problem other than at  the source. A PowerPoint presentation explains the situation and ECHA points out the effect of the Beat the Microbead-campaign. That campaign — led by the Plastic Soup Foundation — has generated much attention for the problem. Individual Member States now consider a ban on micro plastics in cosmetics.

In their presentation ECHA also points out that microplastics in care products perform many functions other than exfoliating. On a voluntary basis, the cosmetics industry has so far only removed the microplastics that fulfil an exfoliating function from the formulas. This means the problem is far from being resolved.

Earlier this year consultation meetings took place in which the Plastic Soup Foundation also gave its opinion and brought to the attention the Beat the Microbeaddata file that offers insight into the question of which microplastics are to be found in which care products of which brands.

The Agency released a video (see below) in which the Director of ECHA, Bjorn Hansen, tells that ECHA will formulate recommendations for the European Commission on the basis of the study. Jeroen Dagevos, head of programmes at the Plastic Soup Foundation, also appears in the video.

Maria Westerbos, Director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “Six years after we started the Beat the Microbeadcampaign in 2012, we seem to be on the verge of a European prohibition of all microplastics in all cosmetics. I am very confident that ECHA will make strong recommendations that the European Commission cannot and should not ignore.”

Also read:

From plastic soup to plastic poop
Beat the microbeat campaign demands restriction of all intentionally added microplastics