Microplastics pollution – Measures to Reduce Impacts on the Environment

As part of the European Union’s fight against plastic pollution, the European Commission is proposing an initiative that aims to tackle the unintentional release of microplastics in the environment.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastics, usually smaller than 5mm, that are not biodegradable. Therefore, once released, microplastics tend to accumulate in the environment, including the sea, in food and drinking water, and living organisms.

Consequently, there are increasing concerns, about the negative impact that microplastics have on vulnerable eco-systems, biodiversity and human health. Moreover, the economic impact on terrestrial and marine ecosystems due to the release of plastics into the environment is vast. However, at present, there is no single European law that covers microplastics in a comprehensive manner.

In this context, the European Commission is preparing a proposal for a regulation that aims to reduce the presence in the environment of unintentionally released microplastics from the main sources of plastics. This initiative aims to improve the science on the risks and occurrence of microplastics in the environment, tap water and food, and to reduce environmental pollution and potential health risks while encouraging competitiveness and innovation.

To reduce the impact of microplastics pollution, this initiative shall focus on labelling, standardisation, certification and regulatory measures for tyres, textiles and plastic pellets among which are the main source for these plastics.

As part of the preparation for this initiative, the Commission has launched a public consultation on how best to reduce the amount of unintentionally released microplastics into the environment.

Through this consultation the Commission will be able to collect stakeholders’ views on a possible policy to tackle microplastics pollution as well as collect additional information about sources, monitoring, known initiatives to limit emissions and potential measures to abate emissions.

The consultation questionnaire comprises of general questions intended for all stakeholders and questions seeking more specialised information from experts in the plastics industry such plastics producers/processors, recyclers.

Individuals, NGOs or businesses interested in partaking in this online consultation are invited to provide their input by May 17, 2022.