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EC Website Issues Latest Current Thinking on Microplastics in Products

SafeGuardSHardgoodsFebruary 23, 2024

SG 37/24

The European Commission’s technical services have issued their latest current thinking and additional information on the implementation of the law on microplastics under REACH

In September 2023, the European Union (EU) published Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 to restrict synthetic polymer microparticles (‘microplastics’) as substances on their own or intentionally added to mixtures (the Regulation). The new law is being implemented in phases, starting October 17, 2023 (SafeGuardS 126/23).

Since the publication of the Regulation, the European Commission (EC) website has announced the latest current thinking on certain points associated with the application of the microplastics restriction, including plastic glitter on its own and in products.

Highlights of the latest current thinking and other details include:

  • Plastic glitter on its own (loose plastic glitter) is considered as a mixture under REACH and is in the scope of the restriction.
  • Only certain types and uses of glitter are prohibited as of October 17, 2023, depending on their 1) composition, 2) use and 3) whether they are loose or trapped inside an object (products already on the market can continue to be sold until stocks are exhausted):
    • Only glitter composed of non-biodegradable, insoluble plastic is concerned (biodegradable, soluble, natural or inorganic glitter is not considered as microplastics)
    • Sale ban applies to non-biodegradable, insoluble plastic glitter for uses that are not exempted or do not have a transitional period (e.g. art and crafts, toys and textiles (with certain derogations)). Glitter in cosmetics and detergents, and for uses in paragraph 6 to entry 78 of Annex XVII of REACH, may continue to be sold until the end of those periods
    • Unless loose plastic glitter is biodegradable, soluble or otherwise degraded, those without a transitional period are prohibited as of October 17, 2023 (e.g. art and crafts and toys):
      • This ban does not apply if plastic glitter is contained by technical means, forms solids films (e.g. paints and certain inks) or, during end use, is permanently incorporated in a solid matrix (e.g. glitter glue)
  • The following are not within the scope of restrictions:
    • Articles with glitter affixed on their surface
    • Products, including glitter, made of material that is inorganic (e.g. glass and metal), natural, biodegradable or soluble in water
    • Beads and sequins (and other decorations) intended to be threaded or sewn
    • Microplastics, including plastic glitter, that are contained by technical means or lose their microplastics nature when used, or permanently incorporated in a solid matrix (e.g., trapped in glue, paints or certain ink, or inside objects)
    • Products that are articles under REACH
    • Products that are already on the market on October 17, 2023
  • Although products containing plastic glitter/microplastics for uses other that those specified in paragraph 6 of the regulation can continue to be sold if they have been placed on the market prior to October 17, 2023, it is important to note the following:
    • If a large container of glitter bought before October 17, 2023, is repackaged into a new product, the new product is required to be placed on the market before this date in order for sale to continue

The EC is expected to issue a detailed Q&A document to assist stakeholders with the implementation of the regulation.

SGS keeps interested parties informed about the latest developments relating to the REACH regulation. Our expertise, combined with consultancy services and experience in consumer product supply chains, provides a central point of contact for global solutions. Discover more on our website and contact us if you would like to learn more about how SGS can support your REACH compliance activities. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s tested.

© SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA. This publication or website is a property of SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA. All contents including website designs, text, and graphics contained herein are owned by or licensed to SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA. The information provided is for technical and general information purposes only and offers no legal advice. The information is no substitute for professional legal advice to ensure compliance with the applicable laws and regulations. All information is provided in good faith “as is”, and SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, and does not warrant that the information will be error-free or meet any particular criteria of performance or quality.

For further information, please contact:

HingWo Tsang

Dr. HingWo Tsang

Global Information and Innovation Manager

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