The European commission has adopted measures that restrict microplastics intentionally added to products, including cosmetics.
Under the EU chemicals legislation REACH, the new rules are expected to prevent the release to the environment of about half a million tonnes of microplastics.
The adopted restriction uses a broad definition of microplastics.
It covers all synthetic polymer particles below 5mm that are organic, insoluble and resist degradation.
In cosmetics, this includes microplastics used for exfoliation (microbeads), and for obtaining a specific texture, fragrance or colour.
A REACH committee voted to restrict intentional microplastics in April 2023, after which the proposal faced a three-month scrutiny by the European parliament and the council, before adoption by the commission.
The first measures, for example the ban on loose glitter and microbeads, will be applied immediately – 20 days after the 25 September 2023 adoption.
But will apply between four to 12 years for other cosmetics, depending on the complexity of the product, the need for reformulation and the availability of suitable alternatives.