What is ECHA and the ECHA Restriction Proposal for Microplastic?
What is ECHA?
ECHA is The European Chemicals Agency. It is the driving force among regulatory authorities in implementing the EU’s groundbreaking chemicals legislation for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. ECHA, for example, are responsible for REACH
What is ‘ECHA Restriction Proposal for Microplastic, Jan 2019’?
ECHA’s Microplastic Proposal, Jan 2019 or in full, ‘Restricting the use of intentionally added microplastic particles to consumer or professional use products of any kind’, if adopted, the restriction could reduce the number of microplastics released to the environment in the EU by about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.
ECHA’s proposed restriction targets intentionally added microplastics in products from which they will inevitably be released to the environment. The definition of microplastic is wide, covering small, typically microscopic (less than 5mm), synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation.
What does ECHA’s Microplastic Proposal, Jan 2019 mean for glitter?
Summary of ECHA’s Microplastic definition:-
“microplastic’ means a material consisting of solid polymer-containing particles, to which additives or other substances may have been added, and where ≥ 1% w/w of particles have (i) all dimensions 1nm ≤ x ≤ 5mm, or (ii), for fibres, a length of 3nm ≤ x ≤ 15mm and length to diameter ratio of >3. Polymers that occur in nature that have not been chemically modified (other than by hydrolysis) are excluded, as are polymers that are (bio)degradable.”
How does this relate to glitter?
This definition can be broken down into two sections, one relating to size and the other relating to the material used to make the glitter:-
Glitter Size. The vast majority of glitter products are below 5mm in size terms, so they are within the scope of the definition of a microplastic.
Glitter material. It’s considered to contain or made from microplastic material UNLESS it is proven to be (bio)degradable in the natural environment.
ECHA and biodegradability testing
The ECHA proposal strictly defines the biodegradability tests that are accepted to determine whether or not a polymeric material is considered a microplastic.
One of the permitted test methods is ISO14851/2 Fresh Water Biodegradation conducted by an authorised lab. This is the test method used to assess our Bioglitter products™ and also at the heart of TÜV ‘OK biodegradable WATER’ certification.