MEPs demand ban on the unintentional release of microplastics

25 MEPs have signed an open letter to Frans Timmermans demanding measures to prohibit and reduce the release of unintentional micro- and nanoplastics during production processes.

Unintentional MicroplasticsA group of 25 MEPs from five political parties have signed an open letter (see text in full below) urging Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, to take further action on plastic pollution in order to protect human health.

The letter calls for a ban and reduction in the unintentional release of micro and nanoplastics throughout the entire production cycle and call for Timmermans to promote technological advancements that contribute to this change.

While the EU has already introduced legislation to tackle single-use plastics and intentional microplastic release, there is currently no specific plan in place to phase out unintentional microplastics. Unintentional microplastics are those derived from fragmentation and weathering, due to mechanical abrasion, UV radiation, and/or (micro)biological degradation.

A 2022 study from the University of Amsterdam reported how microplastics had been found in human blood, and a recent study from the Minderoo Foundation explored the wide ranging health issues that plastic can cause.

Maria Westerbos, Founder & Director of Plastic Soup Foundation (which commissioned the open letter) & Plastic Health Summit, commented: “Today I am proud to join 25 MEPs from across Europe in calling for urgent European Commission action on this issue.” 

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet & PlasticFree, also called for systemic change: “We must rethink how we take, make and waste, and reimagine new systems and material uses in a very different way from today. It is this coupled with comprehensive global legislation that has the protection of human health at its core that will provide lasting protections and change.”


May 2023 

Open Letter to Mr Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice - President, European Commission. 

Stop plasticene, protect human health. 

Dear Mr Frans Timmermans, 

The undersigned Members of the European Parliament are deeply concerned about the impact of microplastics on human and animal health and the limited action undertaken by the European Union (EU) in this area. A wealth of scientific studies has demonstrated that citizens inhale, ingest and absorb microplastics in their daily life1. 

Human exposure to microplastics can adversely affect the metabolism and induce severe illness as well as compromise adequate foetus developments2. The distribution and abundance of microplastics is so wide that the historical time we live is has been defined as ‘Plasticene’3. Microplastic particles, with hazard potential, have been detected in the environment, marine water, freshwater, agroecosystems, atmosphere, food, drinking-water, ecosystems, animals, plants, feedstocks, and other locations. This means that around 450 million citizens are being exposed to harmful microplastics on a daily basis. 

The EU has made some progress on this issue. Steps forward have been achieved with prohibiting intentional microplastics in cosmetics, although allowing too much time for the phase out of a few products, as well as the use of certain single-use products. The introduction of precautionary measures to prohibit and minimize both the intentional and unintentional release of microplastics is the only effective solution to secure public health. 

Crucially, the recent EU Global Health Strategy4, whose objective is to deliver better health and well- being of people across their life course, does not mention the word ‘microplastic’ once, and there is no specific roadmap set for the phase out of unintentional microplastics. 

We therefore call on the European Commission to deliver in this area and propose tangible solutions which would put an end to ‘Plasticene’ and protect the health of EU citizens. The Commission should take a firm stand and show real leadership by prohibiting and minimizing the intentional and unintentional release of microplastics while promoting advanced technological developments supporting this change. 

Signed by: 

  • Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP) 
  • Sara Cerdas (S&D) 
  • Martin Hojsik (Renew) 
  • Malte Gallée (Greens) 
  • Frédérique Ries (Renew) 
  • Anja Hazekamp (Left) 
  • Margrete Auken (Greens) 
  • Martin Buschmann (NI) 
  • Michèle Rivasi (Greens) 
  • Henna Virkkunen (EPP) 
  • Aurore Lalucq (S&D) 
  • Karen Melchior (Renew) 
  • Jakop Dalunde (Greens) 
  • Pär Holmgren (Greens) 
  • Alice Bah Kuhnke (Greens) 
  • Marie Toussaint (Greens) 
  • Maria Arena (S&D) 
  • Tilly Metz (Greens) 
  • Jutta Paulus (Greens) 
  • Maria Angela Danzi (NI) 
  • Tiziana Beghin (NI) 
  • Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI) 
  • Laura Ferrara (NI) 
  • Mario Furore (NI) 
  • Sabrina Pignedoli (NI) 

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