The Pew Charitable Trusts and four other non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—Environmental Coalition on Standards, Rethink Plastic, Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment—are calling on the European Commission to take immediate action to combat pellet pollution and reduce microplastic emissions. Only by introducing mandatory legislation, the organizations say, can humans effectively curb microplastic emissions and safeguard the environment.
Pellets are tiny granules of plastic, usually in the shape of a cylinder or a disc, produced as a raw material; they’re the building blocks of most plastic products. Pellets that are lost throughout the supply chain have emerged as the third-largest contributor to microplastic pollution in Europe, harming both the environment and human health. A study funded by the European Commission estimated that more than 167,431 metric tons of pellets are released into the environment in Europe each year.
Pellet loss is preventable through the implementation of low-cost handling methods, such as those led by Operation Clean Sweep—the industry’s best-practice program to minimize pellet pollution. But that approach is voluntary and has a low adoption rate. In contrast, legislation throughout the European Union (EU) that mandates independent verification of pellet loss prevention measures can eliminate the risk of pellet pollution at its source. Such decisive action aligns with the EU’s commitment to achieving a 30% reduction in microplastic pollution by 2030, as outlined in the Zero Pollution Action Plan.
Pew and the other NGOs are urging the European Commission to swiftly release a crucial legislative proposal to combat pellet pollution. By taking immediate action, the EU can lead the way in addressing the unintentional release of microplastics—and strengthen its position as a global leader in tackling plastic pollution, contributing to the objectives of the Green Deal.
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