REACH: The European Union bans microplastics

On 27 September 2023 the European Commission published Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 to amend Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation. The restriction will apply for microplastic, on their own or in mixtures, placed on the market on or after 17 October 2023.

Challenges: Preserving the environment and human health

It's everywhere! In facial or body exfoliants, toothpastes or even shampoos, but also in makeup products, sun creams or deodorants.

The ubiquitous presence of microplastics raises concerns about their general impact on the environment and, potentially, on human health. Those polymers degrade very slowly and can easily be ingested by living organisms.

1,250 to 1,910 tonnes of microbeads are voluntarily added to care products each year.

Evaluation ECHA , October 2017

In a bid to tackle plastic pollution, in January 2018, the Commission adopted a plastics strategy which aimed, among other things, to reduce all sources contributing to microplastic pollution. Europe aims to reduce by 30 % the amount of microplastics released into the environment by 2030.

Requirements and deadlines

The requirement prohibits the sale of microplastics as substances on their own or, where there are present to confer a sought-after characteristic, in mixtures in a concentration equal to or greater than 0,01 % by weight.

Microplastics concerned by this regulation are polymers that are solid and which fulfil both of the following conditions:
(a) are contained in particles and constitute at least 1 % by weight of those particles; or build a continuous surface coating on particles;
(b) at least 1 % by weight of the particles referred to in point (a) fulfil either of the following conditions:
(i) all dimensions of the particles are equal to or less than 5 mm;
(ii) the length of the particles is equal to or less than 15 mm and their length to diameter ratio is greater than 3.

The European regulation provides for a progressive implementation deadline from 2025 to 2035. For example:

  • Products to rinse off from October 17, 2027
  • Detergents from October 17, 2028
  • Plant protection products from October 17, 2031
  • Lip products from October 17, 2035

Exclusions are provided.

For more information, read the regulation (EU) 2023/2055.

October 2023