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Six European countries call for binding EU microplastic rules

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 plastic litter breaks up over time.

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The European Commission is drafting a law, due to be proposed to EU member countries and lawmakers next month, to introduce measures designed to cut the volume of microplastics released into the environment by 30 percent by 2030.

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. We call on the Commission to introduce precautionary measures at the EU level to prevent and reduce microplastics in the environment,” the six countries said in a joint paper that was sent to the EU executive this week. Apart from Germany, the Netherlands, and France, it was also signed by Denmark, Luxembourg, and non-European Union member Norway.

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 with the rules. Last year, the Commission proposed a separate law that will phase in restrictions on adding microplastics to products sold in Europe, including sports pitches and cosmetics.

The upcoming proposal is expected also to target unintentionally released microplastics, such as from wear and tear of tires and washing clothes made from synthetic materials.

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