European Union to ban microplastics from cosmetics

The European Commission is to restrict microplastics intentionally added to products under the EU chemical legislation REACH.

The restriction uses a broad definition of microplastics covering all synthetic polymer particles below five millimetres that are organic, insoluble and resist degradation.

The purpose is to reduce emissions of intentional microplastics from as many products as possible.

Examples of common products in the scope of the restriction are cosmetics, where microplastics is used for multiple purposes, such as exfoliation (microbeads) or obtaining a specific texture, fragrance or colour.

The restriction will come into force once it is published in the Official Journal of the EU this week.

The first measures will start applying 20 days after the restriction enters into force in the EU and Northern Ireland.

For example, the sale ban applies immediately for cosmetics containing microbeads (small plastic beads used for exfoliation), as their use is already being phased out. It also applies immediately to loose glitter made of plastic.

However, it applies after four to 12 years for other cosmetics, depending on the complexity of the product, the need for reformulation and the availability of suitable alternatives.

More information can be found here.

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