Plastics, are important materials that are abundant in our economy.
They make our lives easier in many ways and are often lighter or cost less than
alternative materials. However, if they are not properly disposed of or
recycled after they are used, they are often released into that environment
where they can persist for long periods and degrade into smaller and smaller
pieces, called microplastics, that are of concern. Microplastics can also be
deliberately manufactured and intentionally added to products.
Microplastics are very small (typically smaller than 5mm) solid particles
composed of mixtures of polymers (the primary components of plastics) and
functional additives; they may also contain residual impurities from their
manufacture. They can be unintentionally formed through the wear and tear of
larger pieces of plastic, including synthetic textiles. They can also be
deliberately manufactured and intentionally added to products for a specific
purpose, for example, as exfoliating beads in facial or body scrubs. Once in
the environment microplastics are accumulated by animals, including fish and
shellfish, and consequently consumed as food, including by humans.
Following the requests from the European Commission, the European Chemicals
Agency (ECHA) has started to prepare restriction proposals for oxo-plastics and
for intentionally added microplastic particles to consumer or professional use
products of any kind. To inform about this proposal ECHA has published a guide
'QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE RESTRICTION PROPOSAL ON INTENTIONALLY ADDED
AplusA-online.de - Source: European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)