Even if the long-term consequences are difficult to assess, EU countries agree that the use of microplastics must be significantly restricted. Due to the poor degradability of artificial materials, microplastics are detected more than ever in marine organisms. There is now a proposal for a limit: clear limit values for the use of microplastics from 2022.

Plastics – the ubiquitous material

A total of 25 million tons of plastic production per year! A shocking figure, which initially refers to Europe and at the same time makes a worldwide statement. Not surprising, since the material is not only found in bottles or housings, but also in the smallest particles, which can be found in polishes or beauty products because of their abrasive effect. According to the Federal Environment Agency, plastics are to date “among the most economically and technically important materials and are used in almost all areas of everyday life”.

Longevity with consequences

A long resistance that has serious consequences for our environment. Reports of found plastic particles in marine animals are appearing more and more frequently – quite apart from the general pollution of the oceans by micro-plastics. In most cases, the material is added to numerous products or is only created in the further process by chemical degradation mechanisms. In addition to the great discussion about the demonstrable damage to marine space, inland waters and our soils are also under discussion. These damages can be caused, for example, by tire abrasion, but also by products such as cosmetics, paints / varnishes or pharmaceuticals and find their way into the environment via wastewater. What consequences this will ultimately have on food production and our health will soon become apparent.

Limitation for microplastics

In order to limit the previously undefined long-term losses, some EU states have now reached a consensus. The evaluation of health and environmental risks by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has resulted in a restriction of intentionally added microplastics. This regulation covers particles with a prescribed diameter. Particles that are added for commercial or consumer use are also affected.

Future strategy and long-term consequences

What long-term impact does ECHA expect from the restriction? With a view to containment within 20 years, the Agency expects a reduction of around 400000 tonnes of microplastics. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the restriction is only part of the “EU plastics strategy, which aims, among other things, to reduce plastic waste, promote art recycling and biodegradable plastics and reduce the release of plastics into the environment”.


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Link: echa.europa.eu

Image: Unsplash