The EU wants to reduce microplastics. It all began with an unwieldy title: “Draft regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the release of plastic pellets to reduce pollution caused by microplastics”. But what lies behind it concerns every company along the plastic granulate supply chain – producers, hauliers and processors. A brief look at the background shows why.
According to the German industry association Süddeutsches Kunststoffzentrum (SKZ), around two per cent of all plastic waste in the environment consists of plastic pellets. According to Statista, pellets are responsible for 0.3% of the world’s microplastics in the oceans alone. In contrast to the proportion caused by tyres (28%), textiles (35%) and cosmetics (2%), the amount of pellets seems small at first. However, while greater efforts are required to minimise the release of the aforementioned product groups, this is not so difficult with plastic pellets. This is because most pellets ends up in the environment due to improper handling and a lack of awareness on the part of companies.
The EU regulation, therefore, aims to reduce the amount of plastic pellets released into the environment by 54 to 74%. To this end, the EU wants to develop a mandatory standardised method for measuring the release of plastic pellets. The idea behind it is clear: The companies then standardise the amount of pellets they release into the environment. REACH already requires annual reporting on the release of plastic pellets, which has so far been based on estimated quantities. A new measurement standard will increase the accuracy of information on pellets releases.
In addition, the regulation provides for binding requirements to prevent and reduce the release of plastic pellets in a new EU legal framework. Micro and small companies have to fulfil less stringent requirements. The requirements are to be verified by means of third-party certification.