Nanoplastics should be included in existing regulatory frameworks
The regulation of plastics has emerged as a significant science-policy challenge, initiated by growing societal concerns regarding plastic pollution. A specific focus is now on nanoplastics, i.e., plastic particles smaller than 1000 nanometres in size. The need to include nanoplastics in existing regulatory frameworks arises from the increasing number of studies demonstrating the bioavailability and harmfulness of smaller plastic particles, compared to larger fragments of plastic. Currently, three important policy and legislative processes are on-going in parallel that will impact the future regulation of plastics in general, and of intentionally produced micro- and nanoplastics in particular. Firstly, the European Commission is considering the restriction proposal commissioned by the European Chemicals Agency on intentionally added microplastics. Secondly, there is a discussion about how to define polymers under the European Chemicals Regulation, REACH, so that polymers are not automatically exempted from registration and submission of health and environmental safety information. Thirdly, the European Commission is in the process of revising its proposed definition of nanomaterials.