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EU's Bold Steps to Combat Microplastics

Laws & regulations
Wave GOODBYE to non-biodegradable glitter - it’s time for a glitter revolution!

Yes, that’s right! The European Commission is taking action to tackle microplastics by cracking down on intentionally added microplastics in products under the REACH regulation. These new rules are set to prevent the release of half a million tonnes of microplastics into the environment!

This regulation is in line with the EU Green Deal, the new Circular Economy Action Plan, and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, which aims to cut microplastics pollution by 30% by 2030. This ban is the first step towards achieving this goal!

Understanding Microplastics

Microplastics are solid plastic particles composed of mixtures of polymers and functional additives that are used in a wide variety of products. Microplastics may be tiny, but their impact is enormous!

In September 2023, the EU proposed a new legislation to regulate synthetic polymer microparticles.

This new legislation applies to all synthetic polymer particles under 5 millimeters in size that are organic, insoluble, and resistant to degradation. Its aim is to minimize the release of microplastics into the environment from a wide range of products.

So, what types of products are restricted?

  • The granular infill material used on artificial sport surfaces (the largest source of intentional microplastics in the environment),
  • Cosmetics, e.g. microbeads used in exfoliators, microplastics used to obtain a specific texture, fragrance or colour,
  • Detergents,
  • Fabric softeners,
  • Glitter,
  • Fertilisers,
  • Toys,
  • Medicine and medical devices.

Glitter Ban

As of 17th October 2023, loose glitter and microbeads are banned.

It only applies to certain types of glitter, e.g. what the glitter is made of , what it’s used for, and whether it is loose or trapped inside an object. Additionally, any products that are already on the market e.g. products on shelves or in supplier stocks can continue to be sold until stock runs out.

Composition
BANNED: non-biodegradable, insoluble glitter
NOT BANNED: biodegradable, soluble, natural or inorganic glitter, beads or sequins

So how does it impact fashion and textiles?

  1. If the glitter has a secondary function of a garment and doesn’t come off while wearing it’s out of scope of this regulation. (for example: a T-Shirt with decorative glitter).
  2. If the glitter has a primary function of a garment and it comes off while wearing, that means it’s in scope of the regulation and the garment cannot be sold! (for example: a costume with glitter that enhances visibility in low light conditions but the glitter comes off while wearing).

How to comply?

If you've got products with microplastics in the mix, it's time to get on board with this regulation and move to a sustainable alternative! But if you're feeling a bit lost in the compliance maze, don't worry - we've got your back!

Complying with this regulation will require brands to make significant changes to their products and practices. The following steps can help brands ensure compliance with the regulation:

  • Understand the New Regulation

Take the time to thoroughly understand the requirements and implications of the new legislation. Study the specific criteria, as well as any guidelines or directives provided. It’s important to stay up-to-date to ensure ongoing compliance.

  • Assess Product Inventory

Conduct a comprehensive inventory of your products to identify any that contain microplastics within scope. This should include finished products, raw materials and components. This will give you a clear picture of which products will need modification or replacing.

  • Identify More Sustainable Alternatives

Why not explore sustainable alternatives? This may involve researching and testing alternative ingredients or materials that offer similar functionality but are biodegradable, compostable or otherwise environmentally responsible.

  • Supply Chain Management

Assess and optimize your supply chain to support the transition to compliant products. Engage and collaborate with suppliers to communicate your sustainability goals and requirements. Establish clear guidelines and standards for suppliers regarding the use of microplastics. Regularly monitor and audit your supply chain to ensure adherence to regulations and sustainability commitments.

Are you feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with this new regulation? RethinkRebels is here to help! With our ‘Impact Above and Beyond’ service, we will bring your company in line with all upcoming national and international laws and legislations such as EPR, CSRD, CSDD, PEF, DPP, to name a few! Ready to start this journey, book a 30 minute call with one of our experts TODAY!

Oh and before you go…don’t to check out our Instagram reel highlighting key insights and updates on the Microplastics Ban, providing bite-sized content for easy understanding.


References
  1. https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/commission-regulation-eu-20232055-restriction-microplastics-intentionally-added-products_en
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_4581

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