Environmental activist and artist Rob Arnold sets up the machine he built that filters nurdles and microplastics from natural waste near Freathy, south western England, on Feb 26, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
BRUSSELS — Germany, the Netherlands, France and three other countries are calling for binding European Union measures to prevent the release of microplastics, which have been found in the human body, polar sea ice and the deepest ocean trenches.
The tiny plastic particles are used in products including cosmetics, paints and sports pitches, or created unintentionally when bigger pieces of plastic litter break up over time.
They also called for the EU to create uniform systems to monitor microplastics in air, water and soil across Europe, to track whether countries are complying and enforcing the rules
The European Commision is drafting a law, due to be proposed to members of the 27-country bloc and lawmakers next month, to introduce measures to cut the volume of microplastics released into the environment by 30 percent by 2030.
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The European Chemicals Agency says that in Europe around 42,000 tonnes of intentionally-added microplastics are released into the environment each year, plus an estimated 176,000 tonnes of unintentionally-formed particles.
"Voluntary measures are not enough," the six countries said in a joint paper which was sent to the EU executive this week and seen by Reuters. It was also signed by Denmark, Luxembourg and non-European Union member Norway.
"We call on the Commission to introduce precautionary measures at EU level to prevent and reduce microplastics in the environment," the countries said in the letter.
They also called for the EU to create uniform systems to monitor microplastics in air, water and soil across Europe, to track whether countries are complying and enforcing the rules.
The Commission proposed a separate law last year that will phase in restrictions on adding microplastics to products sold in Europe, including sports pitches and cosmetics.
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The upcoming proposal is expected to also target unintentionally released microplastics, such as from wear and tear of tyres and washing clothes made from synthetic materials.