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Denmark to impose temporary ban on microplastics in cosmetics

Products - Microbeads © vwpix - Fotolia.com

Denmark is to introduce a temporary ban on microplastics added to rinse-off cosmetics until an EU-wide measure comes into play, its environment minister has said. It is also considering extending the ban to all cosmetics products "within three years".

Minister for Environment and Food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said the national ban would be imposed "as soon as possible".

For rinse-off products, it will apply from 1 January 2020 "at the latest", he said, and "an analysis must be made of whether intentionally added microplastics can also be banned nationally in other cosmetic products within three years."

The measures will be temporary, he added, "until the European Commission is ready with a proposal for regulation".

In January, the European Commission asked Echa to prepare a REACH Annex XV restriction dossier on the use of intentionally added microplastic particles for all consumer and professional use products.

And in September, the European Parliament backed calls to adopt a ban on those intentionally added to cosmetics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning products by 2020.

Some EU member states have already taken action to curtail their release in cosmetics and personal care products. The UK has banned them and Sweden and Belgium have made similar proposals.

However, the Nordic Council, an intergovernmental cooperation body representing Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, has said it will wait to see the scope of the EU strategy before taking action.

'All of them'

Europe's cosmetics industry has been phasing out microplastics voluntarily.

According to the Danish statement, trade body Cosmetics Europe says its members have removed them from 97.6% of all rinse-off products on the market.

But NGO coalition Beat the Microbead has called for industry action to go beyond synthetic, solid particles used for exfoliating and cleansing. The same chemical ingredients may remain in the formulations for functions other than exfoliating, it said.

Denmark's Ellemann-Jensen acknowledged industry efforts to eliminate the microbeads from certain products, but "my ambition is it should be for all of them."

He cited figures from the Danish EPA indicating that microplastic from cosmetics represent 0.1% of all such emissions to the aquatic environment.

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