The European Union passed legislation on the 25th of September 2023 banning intentionally added microplastics placed on the EU market. The ban’s effective date was October 17th, 2023. Polymers that meet the definition, either included as substances on their own or within mixtures in a concentration equal to or exceeding 0.01% by weight, cannot be placed on the EU market, unless an exemption to the restriction applies.  

Microplastics, tiny particles that measure less than 5 millimeters, pose many environmental challenges. There are both primary and secondary sources of these particles. Primary come from intentionally manufactured sources of synthetic microparticles, such as tiny beads found in face washing cream or in the inks used for laser printing. Secondary sources originate from larger plastics or polymers, such as tires or plastic bottles, that over time break down into smaller and smaller pieces posing hazards to marine ecosystems. The EU Microplastics restriction targets primary sources, those which are intentionally manufactured and placed on the market.  

The EU microplastics restriction imposes several restriction deadlines for different product categories:  

2027 – Rinse off Products (i.e. abrasive microbeads) 

2028 – Detergents (i.e. waxes, polishes, hair care), fertilized products, agricultural and horticultural uses 

2029 – Encapsulation of fragrances, “leave on cosmetics”, medical devices 

2031 – Plant protection products, biocidal products, infill for sports surfaces 

2035 – Lip products, nail products and make-up 

Products not listed above and where no other exemption applies are banned from the EU market. There are other exemptions that can be used, for example industrial downstream uses at industrial sites, or professional or consumer uses where it can be proven that microplastics are not released to the environment upon end use.   

Claiming downstream use at industrial sites or containment exemptions for professional and consumer uses come with additional labelling and instruction requirements, as well as reporting requirements to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).  

Starting on October 17th, 2025, manufacturers supplying microplastics to downstream users at industrial sites will need to provide the following information to their customers:  

  • A statement that the product contains microplastics. 
  • Instructions on how to prevent the release of microplastics to the environment.  
  • Information on the polymer identity and quantity or concentration of the microplastics in the substance or mixture.  

 

In 2027, manufacturers who claim the above industrial use exemption will have until May 31st to submit the following information to ECHA from the previous year (2026), and will need to repeat this reporting each year after:    

  • Description of all uses of microplastics in the previous calendar year 
  • For each end use, generic description of polymer identity  
  • Estimate of the quantity of synthetic polymer microplastics released to the environment. 

 

Similar labels, instructions, and data submissions to ECHA are also mandatory for professional and consumer uses of microplastics that are claiming exemption to the restriction on the basis of containment.  

It will be important for manufacturers of microplastics to start evaluating their products and developing a plan on how they will comply with the exemptions. For support or more information on microplastics, please reach out to H2 compliance.  

  Published: February 16, 2024