European Parliament calls for ban on micro-plastics. Photo: European Parliament, YouTube.
Intentionally added micro-plastics in cosmetics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning products should be forbidden by 2020. The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety wants to ban micro-plastics as soon as possible. During a plenary meeting on Thursday 13 September the committee backed the proposal for a new EU plastic strategy, but also requested more speed.
Microplastics refer to very small particles (<5mm) of plastic material. They can be unintentionally formed through the wear and tear of larger pieces of plastic such as synthetic textiles or can be deliberately manufactured and intentionally added to for example cosmetics. Companies also release micro-plastics when producing products such as textiles, tyres, paint and cigarette butts. All these particles form a serious threat to the (water) environment.
EU has to act
Belgian ECR member Mark Demesmaeker is the MEP in charge of steering the strategy through Parliament. He says it is time for the EU to act: "Up until now we have been outsourcing our plastic waste problems to countries like China and China has recently decided to ban all imports of EU waste plastics so we have to act now, we have to innovate, we have to invest."
The market already started to address the problem. During IFAT 2018 in Munich a broad alliance of companies and research institutes stepped up and investigated avoidance strategies, procedures for wastewater treatment and technological solutions. Numerous pilots are carried out to remove micro-plastics during the water treatment process.
Plastics in bottled water
The results of micro-plastic pollution became painfully clear in March 2018 when a study carried out by American scientists discovered an alarming amount of plastic particles in bottled water. As a result The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.