Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic material whose size is usually less than 5 millimeters. They can be divided into two categories:Primary microplastics Small particles thrown directly into the environmentIt is estimated that they represent between 15% and 31% of microplastics in the oceans35% of primary microplastics come from washing synthetic clothesAbrasion of tires in driving represents 28%Intentionally added microplastics in personal care products (for example, microbeads in facial scrubs) account for 2% Secondary microplasticsThey originate from the degradation of large plastic objects, such as plastic bags, bottles or fishing netsThey represent between 69% and 81% of microplastics found in the oceansWhat are the effects of microplastics? The presence of these microspheres in the ocean is increasing. The UN declared in 2017 that there are up to 51,000 million microplastic particles in the sea, 500 times more than the number of stars in our galaxy. The microplastics found in the sea can be ingested by marine animals. Plastic accumulates in your body and can end up in humans through the food chain. These particles are also present in foods and beverages, such as beer, honey and tap water. In addition, plastic particles have also recently been discovered in human feces. The effect on human health is still unknown, but they often contain additives and other chemical substances, possibly toxic, that can be harmful to animals and people What solutions does the European Union work on? In September, MEPs approved a strategy aimed at improving the management of plastic in the EU, which states that by 2030 all plastic containers are recyclable. See our infographic on recycling and plastic waste in the European Union. In addition, they asked the Commission to introduce a ban at European level to intentionally eliminate the aggregation of microplastics in products such as cosmetics and detergents by 2020.
Parliament also demanded that measures be taken to minimize the release of microplastics from textiles, tires, paints and cigarette butts. In October, Parliament endorsed an EU ban on certain single-use plastic products, which constitute 70% of the waste that reaches the sea and which has no non-plastic substitutes available. MEPs added to the list of items to ban oxo-degradable plastic products, which are conventional plastics that easily break down into small pieces due to additives and contribute to microplastic pollution in the oceans
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