European Commission has asked the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) to develop a new REACH Restriction on the use of intentionally added microplastics. The definition of a microplastic is ‘a particle that is less than 5mm’ in size and made from a non-biodegradable polymer (rubber or plastic).
Rubber crumb and powders have a number of applications including use in sports tracks and safe play areas, traffic calming products to the benefit of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists and barrier and perimeter security products designed to protect sensitive buildings and infrastructure. These are cost-effective and socially beneficial uses of rubber products at the end of their first life, whereas the available alternatives for the use of rubber derived materials are in many cases more costly, often less resilient and may be environmentally more damaging. To restrict these applications, as would be the effect of the measures proposed, would very significantly reduce the available markets for the processing of end of life tyres and other rubber products and encourage less beneficial outcomes for reuse – in the case of general rubber goods disposing of them in landfill.
BRPPA has therefore urged the Agency not to include recyclates such as rubber derived materials in its overall proposals but to concentrate on finding other solutions to concerns over added microplastics in new products in the European marketplace.