Microplastic regulation should be more precise to incentivize both innovation and environmental safety

Catégorie : Politiques & Réglementations
Date :27 novembre 2020
Mitrano, Denise M.; Wohlleben, Wendel.
Nature communications : 11 (DocId: 1)
The presence of plastic in the environment has sparked discussion amongst scientists, regulators and the general public as to how industrialization and consumerism is shaping our world. Here we discuss restrictions on the intentional use of primary microplastics: small solid polymer particles in applications ranging from agriculture to cosmetics. Microplastic hazards are uncertain, and actions are not similarly prioritized by all actors. In some instances, replacement is technically simple and easily justified, but in others substitutions may come with more uncertainty, performance questions and costs. Scientific impact assessment of primary microplastics compared to their alternatives relies on a number of factors, such as microplastic harm, existence of replacement materials and the quality, cost and hazards of alternative materials. Regulations need a precise focus and must be enforceable by these measurements. Policymakers must carefully evaluate under which contexts incentives to replace certain microplastics can stimulate innovation of new, more competitive and environmentally conscious materials. Plastic pollution is recognized as a global threat, but policy hurdles and a lack of effective plastic substitutes contribute to the problem. In this Perspective, the authors argue that an effective and sustainable path forward must rely on key restrictions and regulations optimized for impact and efficacy.