Eliminating Plastic and Microplastic Pollution - an urgent need
Stakeholder Conference 11-12 May 2015
Permanent Representation of the Netherlands
Plastic and Microplastic Pollution in the aquatic environment is an issue of concern. There is increasing evidence that marine organisms at all levels of the food web ingest plastic and microplastic which is thus entering the food chain. Pollution prevention at source is a key aspect for tackling the challenge of microplastic pollution.
The objectives of the Conference were to
bring together policy makers and other relevant stakeholders
take stock of existing knowledge about plastic and microplastic entering the aquatic environment and to address gaps
identify concrete next steps for effectively eliminating plastic and microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment
Microplastic is a collective term for various plastic particles with a diameter below 5 mm.
There are several potential sources of microplastic: they are used as ingredients in products, in particular cosmetics and detergents, and discharged into the environment through wastewater. Furthermore the shedding of synthetic fibres from textiles by washing may contribute to the microplastic load in the environment. Microplastic is also generated as a consequence of the break-down of larger plastic materials.
Robust data are still lacking on the amount of various types of microplastic that ends up in the environment, its emission pathways and on the predominant effects it may cause to the environment and human health.
At the EU Environment Council in December 2014, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden jointly called on the EU Member States to ban microplastic added to products in order to protect the aquatic environment from pollution. The elimination of microplastic in products, in particular in cosmetics and detergents is seen as an utmost priority by the countries that initiated the call.
Mr. Philipp Hohenblum, Federal Environment Agency Austria,
Ms. Renate Paumann, Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management,
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