MEPs adopt first ever law tackling microplastic pellet pollution

MEP Deirdre Clune. (Pic: European Union 2024 - Source : EP)

On Tuesday, the European Parliament voted on the world’s first ever piece of legislation aiming to prevent spillages of plastic pellets at all stages of the supply chain.

MEP Deirdre Clune, one of the European Parliament’s lead negotiators on the new law, said that microplastic pollution is not only a serious problem for the environment but also for public health.

“Once microplastics enter our environment, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. That’s why I am supporting new measures to prevent microplastic spillages in road, rail and maritime transport.”

According to the European Chemicals Agency, 176,000 metric tons of microplastic pellets are accidentally released into the environment each year.

Losses of plastic pellets, the base material for manufacturing plastic products, are the third largest source of unintentional microplastic releases in the EU environment.

Small plastic pellets are used to manufacture everyday items from shopping bags to water bottles, with research showing that plastics entering the world’s oceans could nearly triple by 2040 if no action is taken.

The new law is particularly timely given that millions of plastic pellets washed up on the coast of Spain’s north-western Galicia region in January.

MEP Clune continued: “The Galicia incident has caused major disruption, threatening to endanger wildlife and posing a serious risk to local fishing fleets. Imposing obligations for the handling of plastic pellets across the supply chain will hopefully deter future accidents.”

The new regulation follows an announcement from the European Commission earlier this month, pledging €3.5 billion to protect the world’s oceans from damage caused by human activity.

Now that the European Parliament has adopted this new law, discussions will soon begin with Member States to agree on a final text, before it is implemented across the EU.