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Dutch Rally Support for a Europe Wide Microplastic Ban

January 16, 2015

Dutch Rally Support for a Europe Wide Microplastic Ban

The Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden recently issued a joint call to ban the microplastics used in personal care products, saying the measure will protect marine ecosystems - and seafood such as mussels - from contamination.
The joint statement that was forwarded to the European Union's 28 environment ministers stated that the elimination of microplastics in products, and in particular, in cosmetics and detergents, "is of utmost priority".

Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These microbeads - hardly visible to the naked eye - flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system.

Not biodegradable, once microplastics enter the marine environment, they are extremely hard to remove. Scientists have recently warned that microplastics might have a harmful effect on human health via contamination of the food chain. For instance, some evidence suggests that microplastics can absorb persistent organic pollutants and facilitate their transfer within marine food webs.

Although it is evident that alternatives to microplastics are available, hundreds of tonnes of microplastics are still being released onto the EU market each year.

The Netherlands is particularly concerned that seafood - including its national production of mussels - could suffer from microplastic pollution. "Zeeuwse mosselen", or mussels from the Dutch province of Zeeland, are a very popular and typical Dutch speciality seafood dish.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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