ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment gives verdict on criteria for ban on microplastics

The proposal, affecting cosmetics, was put in place in January last year, and an opinion is expected to be completed by end of 2020

ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has given its verdict on the group’s criteria for banning intentionally added microplastics to cosmetics.

The proposal, which was put forward in January 2019, set out the socio-economic impacts of the imposed restrictions and the current impact of microplastics on the environment.

In its plans, the ECHA proposed to set out specific test methods and pass criteria for identifying biodegradable polymers, which are currently excluded from the restriction.

However, the RAC has said it wants to see more evidence that these microplastics are biodegradable in the environment.

The environment refers to soils, thalassic environments and freshwater.

The ECHA also suggested redefining the size limit of a microplastic to 100 nanometres, as methods to analyse microplastic detection in mixtures are still ongoing.

But the group said a lower size limit was not necessary as the restrictions can be enforced in other ways, for example, by looking at raw materials in supply chains.

ECHA’s Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) has agreed to this draft opinion and has said it supports the wide scope of the proposal and its transition period.

It noted that “microplastic pollution is irreversible and early action to reduce emissions can be beneficial for society”.

A 60-day consultation period of SEAC’s opinion is expected to start soon and a consolidated opinion will be released by the end of 2020.

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