PREPARATION OF THE RESTRICTION DOSSIER FOR INTENTIONALLY ADDED MICROPLASTICS – THE CURRENT SITUATION
The European Commission has asked the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) to help prepare a regulation that will reduce European microplastics emissions by 400,000 tonnes over 20 years. It is envisaged that the new regulation will include restrictions on the use of intentionally added microplastics in:
- Cosmetics & beauty products
- Agricultural products
- Construction products Products used in the gas and oil industries
- Medical products Detergents and cleaning products
- Polymeric infills used in synthetic turf surfaces
For each industrial application included in the draft restriction, different options have been presented to the two committees for them to consider. For polymeric infills these were:
- An immediate ban
- A ban with a transitional period of six years until implementation
- Making the reporting of sales and monitoring infill loss from all fields, compulsory
- Directing manufacturers to label their products to show how they should be used and managed
- Granting derogation from the Restriction if risk management measures are installed around synthetic turf field
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
On receipt of the two ECHA committee opinions, the European Commission will start their consultation with the 27 Member States, the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament. They will then draft their recommendations for presentation to the European Union’s REACH Committee. It is this committee that will vote and finally decide on whether the recommendations pass into EU legislation. This should happen in late 2021. For a new REACH restriction to be adopted, a qualified majority of at least 55% of the member states, representing at least 65% of the total EU population, needs to vote in favour.
Implications for existing synthetic turf pitches
If ultimately, the European Union amends the REACH Regulations to include a ban on the sale of polymeric infills, the restrictions will only apply to the future sale of these materials from the date of enactment, which is likely to be 2028, at the earliest.