SEAC supports ECHA’s RAC proposal on internationally added microplastics use


ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) supports restricting the use of intentionally added microplastics while recommending more stringent criteria for biodegradable polymers. The Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) agreed on its draft opinion, which will soon be available for consultation.

Reduce Microplastics Release to Environment

RAC has adopted its opinion on ECHA’s proposal to restrict the use of microplastics that are intentionally added to products on the EU/EEA market, in concentrations of more than 0.01 percent weight by weight. The proposal was considered appropriate for reducing releases to the environment. In its opinion, the committee recommended the following:

Biodegradable polymers: ECHA’s proposal set out specific test methods and pass criteria for identifying biodegradable polymers, which are excluded from the restriction. RAC wanted to see greater evidence that microplastics are biodegradable in the environment.

Use of microplastics as infill material on artificial turf pitches: RAC recommended a complete ban after a transition period of six years as there was incomplete information on the effectiveness of risk management measures. A ban would also be more effective than risk management measures in preventing environmental releases in the long term.

The definition of ‘a microplastic’: ECHA proposed a lower size limit of 100 nanometres for a microplastic as analytical methods for detecting microplastics in products (i.e. mixtures) are still in development. RAC recommended that a lower size limit is not necessary as the potential restriction can also be enforced in other ways, such as by looking at raw materials in supply chains.

SEAC Supports the Wide Scope of Proposal

ECHA’s Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) agreed on its draft opinion on the costs and benefits of this proposal for society. SEAC supports the wide scope of the proposal and the transition periods for different product groups to give companies time to prepare. The committee noted that microplastic pollution is irreversible and early action to reduce emissions can be beneficial for society. A 60-day consultation of SEAC’s draft opinion will start soon. The consolidated opinion of both committees is expected to be ready by the end of 2020. The decisions on REACH restrictions are taken in the European Commission by the EU Member States and scrutinized by the Council and the European Parliament., 23 June 2020