- The European Commission has selected the consulting firm Eunomia, in partnership with ICF, to conduct a study on the effects of microplastics entering oceans that will help inform a broader strategy on plastic recovery, as reported by Resource.
- The study will focus specifically on the health effects of microplastics under five millimeters that are unintentionally emitted from sources such as textiles, tires and artificial turf, as well as pellet production and transport. A separate study will focus on microplastics intentionally added to products such as cosmetics.
- This work will include a public consultation in June, followed by a workshop in Brussels that will bring together a wide range of stakeholders in July. A final report is scheduled to be presented in November.
Eunomia has previously released work on ocean plastics, including a study from last year that made the case for beach cleanups being the most effective way to tackle the problem. The issue has also made an appearance in music from the consulting firm's house band, Dirty Murph & The Kerbside Sorters. The prevalence of marine plastic, particularly in the Mediterranean, is a large concern for the European Union and has been part of ongoing discussions around a circular economy package.
Last year, a law banning microplastics in select products was passed in the U.S., and Canada has also added them to a list of toxic substances that could be banned. Other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and some European Union members, have also considered similar policies.
In tandem with these efforts to regulate plastic that can end up in marine settings and understand its health effects, a wide range of collection projects are underway. Following the model recommended by Eunomia last year, TerraCycle is working to partner with beach cleanup projects around the world and recycle the material. The Ocean Cleanup continues to focus on capturing material farther offshore and recently teased details for a new phase in the project that will be announced next month. On the legislative side, a bipartisan bill was recently introduced to Congress that would expand state cleanup funding and increase coordination with other countries that are contributing to the issue.