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Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden issued a joint call to ban the use of microplastics in personal care products, with the aim of protecting marine ecosystems, including seafood, from contamination.

The countries forwarded their joint statement on eliminating microplastics in cosmetic and detergents to the European Union's (EU) environment ministers.

UNEP16 January 2015: Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden issued a joint call to ban the use of microplastics in personal care products, with the aim of protecting marine ecosystems, including seafood, from contamination. The countries forwarded their joint statement on eliminating microplastics in cosmetic and detergents to the European Union’s (EU) environment ministers.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are added to cosmetics, detergents and other personal care products. Microbeads can flow directly from the bathroom drain into sewer systems. Microplastics, which are not biodegradable, can have negative impacts on human health because they absorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and then facilitate the transfer of these chemicals within marine ecosystems and the food web.

The Netherlands has expressed particular concern about the effect of microplastic pollution on seafood, including its national production of mussels from the province of Zeeland.

Alternatives to microplastics exist and some companies have committed to stop using microplastics and microbeads in their products. Unilever has announced it will phase out microplastics in its personal care products by 2015.

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) required the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to prepare a scientific assessment on microplastics for consideration at its next session. [UNEP Press Release]

 

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