EUROPE – The European Parliament has recently approved a regulation aimed at curbing plastic pellet losses to combat microplastic pollution.

This regulation mandates that all businesses handling plastic pellets take measures to prevent spills and losses, holding them accountable for any incidents.

João Albuquerque, the rapporteur for this regulation, emphasized the importance of stricter rules, especially following incidents like the Galicia disaster, and stressed the necessity of addressing plastic pellet pollution comprehensively.

He said, “I am happy that the political groups were able to reach a consensus and strengthen Parliament’s position regarding the vital step of prevention, which translated into a majority at today’s vote.

“I hope this position is maintained in the next mandate and that we can negotiate a strong, prevention-based regulation that will significantly decrease plastic pellet pollution, which poses such a risk for human health and the environment.”

Under this regulation, economic operators handling over 1,000 metric tons of plastic pellets annually must develop a risk assessment plan for their installations.

While the regulation is seen as a significant step forward by environmental groups like Seas At Risk, there are concerns about exemptions for businesses handling less than 1,000 metric tons annually.

Additionally, MEPs proposed labeling requirements for storage and transport containers carrying plastic pellets to highlight their environmental impact and the need to prevent spillage.

There are also plans to evaluate the feasibility of introducing chemical traceability of plastic pellets within two years of the regulation coming into effect.

Furthermore, a mandatory training program for enterprises of all sizes is proposed to address prevention, worker protection, clean-up technologies, and other related issues.

The regulation also includes provisions for tracking and reporting pellet losses to competent authorities after each incident.

Amy Youngman from the Environmental Investigation Agency praised the EU’s leadership in implementing supply chain governance to reduce plastic pollution but raised concerns about potential loopholes in the regulation.

The scale of plastic pellet pollution in the EU is substantial, with tens of thousands of metric tons estimated to have been lost to the environment in recent years.

Lucie Padovani from Surfrider Foundation Europe highlighted the urgency of action, citing the impact on local communities and ecosystems.

In their recent vote, MEPs emphasized the need to expand the definition of plastic pellets to cover various forms used in manufacturing and recycling operations.

The regulation will be taken up by the new Parliament following elections in June, continuing efforts to combat microplastic pollution and hold businesses accountable for plastic pellet management.

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