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The European Parliament wants to ban microplastics in cosmetics

Amsterdam, 27 September 2018 – Breaking news: the European Parliament has embraced the environment commission’s report entitled Turning plastic wastelands into fields of gold, by a huge majority. The report, compiled by the European Parliamentarian Mark Demesmaeker, supports the Plastic Strategy, Europe’s strategy to address the plastic crisis and to stimulate circularity. The European Parliament accepted the report with 579 votes for, 15 against and 25 abstentions.

The report advocates a ban on microplastics in cosmetics. “The rapporteur believes that the most cost-efficient option is to tackle the use of micro-plastics at source. He therefore calls for a ban on micro-plastics which are intentionally added to products, such as for cosmetics and cleaning products, and for which viable alternatives are available. The recent introduction of legislation that bans the use of plastic micro-beads in rinse-off cosmetic products in some Member States, for example the United Kingdom, prove that this is possible.”

The report also cites the Mermaids Life+ project (and, as a partner in Mermaids, the Plastic Soup Foundation’s special site). Demesmaeker believes that the research has generated significant information and wants the European Commission to set legal minimum requirements for products to avoid the spread of microplastics. Apart from textiles, this should also apply to car tyres, paint and cigarette filters.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation said that “Our efforts over the years to deal with microplastics at source is echoed in this report. Given the overwhelming support of the European Parliament for the report, the European Commission must now come with proposals for legislation. We expect a general European ban on all microplastics in all cosmetics and legal requirements to drastically limit the loss of fibres in synthetic clothing.”

Microplastics are subject to a wide debate and there are significant concerns that the tiny fragments can end up in the food chain but little is still known about the impact on human health.

The European Parliament Environment Committee wants ban on microplastics

Amsterdam/Brussels, 31 July 2018 – This month the European Parliament’s environment committee spoke out in favour of a ban on microplastics. It concerns microplastics that have intentionally been added to products such as cosmetics and detergents. The Commission also advocates a ban on oxo-degradable plastics. This type of plastic is broken down into small particles but does not break down in the environment.

Last March, the Special Rapporteur of the Environmental Committee wrote a report following the European Commission’s vision on plastic. That vision, A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, was published earlier in January. Part of the vision is the policy regarding microplastics.

The European Commission has also asked the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) for scientific information on the risks of microplastics for the environment and for human health. This information may provide the basis for a ban on microplastics. The European Parliament’s Environmental Committee now argues in favour of a ban without further delay. Environmental organisations welcomed this position in a joint Press release.

The plenary vote in the European Parliament will follow in September. If the Environment Committee’s proposals are adopted, it will be difficult for the European Commission to disregard the call of the Environment Committee for a total ban on micro-plastics.

Producers have already almost entirely removed the so-called microbeads from their products. This is the result of the Beat the Microbead campaign, led by the Plastic Soup Foundation, which started in August 2012. However, a European ban does not restrict itself to these microbeads with a scrub function, but includes all nano-and microplastics in care products, including lipstick, sun tan products and nail polish. These micro-plastics are widely used in cosmetics, see the reviews by brand and by country on beatthemicrobead.org.

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Norway bans helium balloons

Amsterdam, 10 May 2018. Norway celebrates Independence Day on 17 May. Countless balloons are usually released during the celebrations. But this is now being banned.

The sale of helium balloons was already banned in Skien, Porsgrunn, Drammen, Bodø, Kristiansand, Halden and Arendal last year. The larger cities – Bergen, Haugesund, Tromsø, Fredrikstad, Stavanger and Oslo – also followed suit. The number of towns has now grown to more than 30. None of these places now issues permits for helium filled balloons to be sold. The call for a national ban is getting louder and the Norwegian Parliament declared a national ban on 4 May.

Jeroen Dagevos, Head of Programmes at the Plastic Soup Foundation commends this stand. “We don’t have any problems with balloons, only with balloons that are released. The easiest way to avoid this is to ban the use of helium for balloons. The Netherlands would do well do follow the example of Norway.”


Read more: Plastic cotton buds are on the way out but not yet the Netherlands

Plastic microdeeltjes zijn vaak terug te vinden in cosmetica voor dagelijks gebruik.
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Ban on microbeads in UK, Italy and New Zealand

Amsterdam, 23 December 2017 – The United Kingdom, Italy and New Zealand plan to ban plastic scrub particles in personal care products. Although these countries are taking a major step, this legislation does not mean no more plastic will enter the sea through the use of personal care products.

In London the government adopted a proposal by a special parliamentary commission to ban the production of these personal care products as of 1 January 2018 and their sale as of July 2018. In the parlementary debate which preceded the decision, references were made to the Beat the Microbead campaign’s Position Paper which among other things calls for a broader ban on microplastics.

The Italian parliament adopted a proposal on 19 December to ban microbeads scrub particles in cosmetics as of 2020. In addition, Italy will be the first country to ban plastic cotton buds as of 2019.

In early December, the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, confirmed her country will ban microbeads as of May 2018, as announced by the previous government. New Zealand’s retailers are already removing these polluting products from their shelves and adapting formulas in their own brands.

In each of these pieces of legislation the ban only affects the plastic particles with a scrub function. However, these products contain other plastics which are not covered by the legislation, such as glitter. In Great Britain, glitter in scrubs is covered by the new legislation, while glitter in make-up or shampoo is not. Most glitter comprises of a combination of aluminum and PET. When used, they pollute water with microplastics just as much as the scrub particles do. According to The Independent, British scientists recently called for a ban on glitter.