EC proposal to limit microplastics on the market leads to a powerful impact on stakeholders

‘EC proposal to limit microplastics on the market leads to powerful impact on stakeholders – September 15, 2022

The European Commission has been working for some time to frame new legislation related to the restriction of microplastics. A recently published proposal also defines the products to which microplastics are added. This goes under the REACH regulation, which sets the EU framework for chemicals.

On 30 August 2022, the European Commission published its proposal to limit microplastics called D083921/01 (Draft Implementing Act)

Which products does the proposal to limit microplastics apply to?

The EC’s publication talks about a very wide range of product categories. There are hardly any exceptions. Almost all products with microplastics in them will be restricted. That is a wide range: fragrances, cosmetics, medical devices and biocides with microplastics, they will all be restricted.

Why do new regulations to limit the use of microplastics matter to manufacturers and other suppliers?

The proposals affect a very wide range of manufacturers marketing consumer products in Europe. The restrictions have a very broad and general scope. Many manufacturers will have to start changing the composition of their products. They may also have to comply with new labelling and/or reporting requirements.

Moreover, compliance and enforcement of the proposed regulations will be very difficult due to their wide scope, it is expected.

EC Proposal to Limit Microplastics on the Market
EC proposal to limit microplastics on the European market | Photo by Sören Funk on Unsplash | Graphics by Ellina Goncharova of Alura Group

What does the restriction proposal say on the use of microplastics?

There are products on the market that use microplastics to impart a desired property to that product. In that case, the microplastics (or microparticles of synthetic polymers) are “intentionally added” to bring about the intended property. The restriction applies to additives in mixtures in a concentration of 0.01% or more by weight.

This affects a variety of products. Think, for example, of products used in agriculture (fertiliser products, plant protection products, biocides). But there will also be changes in the cosmetics industry. Indeed, the new legislation also affects, for example, creams, soaps, shampoos, deodorants, make-up and so on.

Are there any exceptions to the restriction on microplastics?

Yes, there are, the EC proposal to limit microplastics certainly has some exceptions. But this is only a limited group. There are certain polymers that are excluded in the definition of microplastics. These include degradable polymers. A very small group of products is exempt from the proposed restriction. That group includes pharmaceuticals and in vitro diagnostic devices, among others.

When will the restrictions on the use of microplastics come into force?

The proposal is for the new regulations to come into force from the 20th day after the official publication is made. However, there are exceptions: the proposed restriction provides transition periods for specific uses. This is to give affected stakeholders sufficient time to make the transition to suitable alternatives (degradable polymers).

More specifically, the EC proposal to limit microplastics establishes the following transition periods:

  • Microplastics in cosmetic products that are washed off,
    4 years after entry into force;
  • Microplastics in detergents/detergents/polishes and air fresheners, fertiliser products outside the scope of Regulation (EU) 2019/1009, for products for use in agriculture and horticulture,
    5 years after entry into force;
  • Microplastics in the encapsulation of fragrances, leave-on cosmetic products, medical devices falling within the scope of Regulation (EU) 2017/745, granular infill for use on synthetic sports surfaces,
    6 years after entry into force;
  • Microplastics in plant protection products and biocides,
    8 years after entry into force;
  • Microplastics in lip products, nail products, and make-up,
    12 years after entry into force.

What steps will follow after the EC proposal to limit microplastics is published?

An initial discussion of the proposal will take place on 23 September 2022 in the REACH Committee, a committee composed of Member State representatives that supports the European Commission in its work under the REACH regulation. Member states sitting on the REACH Committee will have to vote on the proposal by qualified majority before the Commission can send the proposal to the European Parliament and the Council.

The European Parliament and the Council have a three-month scrutiny period and if they do not oppose the proposal during that period, the proposal will be adopted.

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EC proposal to limit microplastics on the market. Far-reaching impact on stakeholders, update info: This articles was updated on Sept 20, 2022