A scientific perspective on microplastics in nature and society

The report comprehensively examines the best available evidence from the natural sciences and computer modelling, as well as social, political and behavioural sciences. Its key conclusions are:

  • Microplastics — tiny particles under 5mm in length — are already present across air, soil and sediment, freshwaters, seas and oceans, plants and animals, and in several components of the human diet.
  • These particles come from a variety of sources, including plastic products, textiles, fisheries, agriculture, industry and general waste.
  • In controlled experiments, high concentrations of these particles have been shown to cause physical harm to the environment and living creatures, including inducing inflammation and stress.
  • However, the concentration levels measured in many real-world locations are well below this threshold — though there are also limitations in the measurement methods currently available.
  • Meanwhile, in other parts of the environment, there is no reliable evidence about the levels or effects of these particles. This is true especially of nanoplastics, which are very difficult to measure and evaluate. (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies, 2019)

The report


EU finally seals ban on single-use plastics by 2021

Parliament approved a new law on Wednesday, banning throwaway plastics such as cotton bud sticks, cutlery, straws, stirrers and plates.According to the European Commission, more than 80 per cent of marine litter is plastics. Plastic residue is found in many marine species such as fish and shell fish and thus is present in the human food chain.The new law banning single-use plastics will come into force across all EU member states by 2021 and will help to reduce the plastic waste that currently pollutes our oceans and beaches.560 MEPs voted in favour of the agreement with EU ministers, 35 voted against and 28 abstained. The directive will also ban plastic balloon sticks, single-use polystyrene cups and those made from oxo-degradable plastics (plastics that fragment into tiny pieces).

Source : EU finally seals ban on single-use plastics by 2021 – Climate Action, 28/03/2019

EU proposes ban on 90% of microplastic pollutants

European Chemicals Agency draft law aims to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution

A wide-ranging ban on microplastics covering about 90% of pollutants has been proposed by the EU in an attempt to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in 20 years.

Every year, Europe releases a bulk amount of microplastics six times bigger than the “Great Pacific garbage patch” into the environment – the equivalent of 10bn plastic bottles. The phasing out proposed by the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) would remove 36,000 tonnes a year of “intentionally added” microplastic fibres and fragments, starting in 2020. Cosmetics, detergents, paints, polish and coatings would all require design overhauls, as would products in the construction, agriculture and fossil fuels sectors. The draft law targets microplastics that are not necessary but have been added to products by manufacturers for convenience or profit.

The Guardian, 30/01/2019

The news

A Comprehensive Analysis of Plastics and Microplastic Legislation Worldwide

Aquatic or land-based plastic pollution has raised serious concerns for ecosystems, and especially human and animal health worldwide. A variety of legislative instruments were developed to control, reduce, and manage the usage of plastics in day-to-day life to minimize the adverse outcomes brought by sending these plastic to landfill. Existing legislation heavily embraces levies, bans, and voluntary efforts through “reduce and reuse campaigns.” Thus, the present review highlights the pros and cons of the existing legislation and its implementation. It also assesses the need for the improvement of plastic legislation to better consider environmental and human health impacts. The paper proposes new efficient management strategies to aid in the development of plastic legislation which prevents increase of plastic pollution worldwide, the potential challenges that would arise from its implementation, and the mechanisms for overcoming these challenges. The paper proposes a conventional management strategy based on the current plastic management and legislation. It aims to improve the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of future plastic policies.

Chung-Sum Lam, Soundaram Ramanathan, Maddison Carbery, Kelsey Gray, Kanth Swaroop Vanka, Cristelle Maurin, Richard Bush, Thavamani Palanisami, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, , 229:345

The article

Why is the global governance of plastic failing the oceans?

On some measures, the global governance of plastic is improving. Curbside recycling and community cleanups are increasing. Companies like Toyota, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble are reducing waste to landfill. And all around the world, as research consolidates and activism intensifies, towns, cities, and legislatures are banning some uses of plastic, such as for grocery bags and as microbeads in consumer products. Yet the amount of plastic flowing into the oceans is on track to double from 2010 to 2025. Why? Partly, the dispersal, durability, and mobility of microplastics make governance extremely hard. At the same time, the difficulty of governing plastic has been rising as production accelerates, consumption globalizes, pollution sources diversify, and international trade obscures responsibility. As pressures and complexities mount, the global governance of plastic – characterized by fragmented authority, weak international institutions, uneven regulations, uncoordinated policies, and business-oriented solutions – is failing to rein in marine plastic pollution. In large part, as this article demonstrates, this governance landscape reflects industry efforts to resist government regulation, deflect accountability, and thwart critics, coupled with industry advocacy of corporate self-regulation and consumer responsibility as principles of governance. These findings confirm the need for more hard-hitting domestic regulation of industry as well as an international plastics treaty to scale up local reforms.

Peter Dauvergne, Global Environmental Change, Volume 51, July 2018, Pages 22-31

The article