EU ban on glitter comes into effect 15 October

EU ban on glitter comes into effect 15 October
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From 15 October, the sale of most "intentional microplastics" such as glitter and microbeads will be banned throughout the European Union.

This follows a measure adopted by the European Commission on 25 September to restrict all synthetic polymer particles smaller than 5 mm that are organic, insoluble and resist degradation under the EU chemical legislation REACH. Besides glitter, these "intentional microplastics" include granular infill material used on artificial sports surfaces and cosmetics with microbeads, among other products.

"This restriction contributes to the green transition of the EU industry and promotes innovative, microplastic-free products – from cosmetics to detergents to sport surfaces," Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said in a press release. "EU citizens will gain access to safer and more sustainable products and the EU industry – especially SMEs – which invested in and developed such innovative products will be more competitive and resilient."

The measure was introduced after the Commission consulted the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which concluded that microplastics intentionally added to certain products are then released into the environment in an uncontrolled manner, and thus pose a serious ecological risk.

The aim is to prevent the release of half a million additional tonnes of microplastics into the environment, which have alarmingly already been found in animals' stomachs, in tap and bottled water, in clouds and even in breast milk. According to the Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Commission has promised to reduce microplastics pollution by 30% by 2030.

"Banning intentionally added microplastics addresses a serious concern for the environment and people's health. Microplastics are found in seas, rivers and on land, as well as in food and drinking water," said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. "Today's restriction concerns very small particles, but it is a big step towards reducing human-made pollution."

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Cosmetics Europe, however, noted in a statement that microplastics from cosmetic and personal care products represent just 2% of overall aquatic plastic litter. Granular infill material used on artificial sport surfaces seems to be the largest source of "intentional microplastics" in the environment.

The ban comes into effect on 15 October, though many stakeholders will be given a longer period of time to adjust. For sports surfaces, for example, the ban will come into effect in eight years to give the industry time to transition to alternative materials.

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