Microplastics: MEPs support stricter rules to minimise plastic pellet losses 


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  • Development and implementation of risk assessment plans 
  • Improved information on storage and transport containers 
  • Up to 180.000 tonnes of pellets are lost to the EU environment every year  

The Environment Committee adopted its proposals to better prevent plastic pellets losses throughout the supply chain, with the goal of achieving zero losses.

On Tuesday, MEPs in the Environment Committee adopted their position on the proposed regulation on preventing plastic pellet losses to reduce microplastic pollution, by 71 votes in favour, five against and one abstention.

MEPs want to improve the definition of plastic pellets, used as feedstock in plastic product manufacturing and plastic recycling operations, to also include powders, cylinders, beads and flakes.

The new rules would require all entities carrying out economic activities that involve the handling of plastic pellets to ensure that losses are avoided. Where spills and losses occur, they would be responsible to take immediate action to contain and clean-up those spills and losses.

Risk assessment plans for installations

The regulation would require economic operators to establish a risk assessment plan for each installation that handles annually over 1000 tonnes of plastic pellets. MEPs want this measure to apply as of two years after the entry into force of the regulation for large enterprises, three years for medium-sized enterprises and five years for small enterprises. They also want the plans to contain information on the number of tonnes of plastic pellets handled per year and the chemical nature of each polymer contained in plastic pellets on site.

Clear labelling of storage and transport containers

MEPs propose that all storage and transport containers carrying plastic pellets should be labelled with a specific pictogram and information linked to their danger, potential to harm the environment, the need to avoid release and collect any spillage.

Other measures proposed by MEPs include:

  • a report on the possibility of introducing chemical traceability of plastic pellets to be published by the Commission two years after the entry into force of the regulation;
  • a mandatory training programme for small, medium and large enterprises addressing specific issues on e.g. prevention, workers protection, clean-up technologies, use and maintenance of equipment, monitoring and reporting of pellet losses;
  • a specific form for loss tracking to be filled in after each incident and communicated to the competent authorities.


Rapporteur João Albuquerque (S&D, PT) said: "This regulation comes at a time where it is increasingly important to raise awareness and take measures against microplastic pollution. We have all seen the importance of stricter rules, especially after the disaster that happened in Galicia, but plastic pellet pollution goes beyond that. I am happy that the political groups were able to reach a consensus and strengthen Parliament’s position regarding the vital step of prevention, which translated into a majority at today’s vote. I hope this position is maintained in the next mandate and that we will be able to negotiate a strong, prevention-based regulation that will lead to a significant decrease of plastic pellet pollution, which poses such a risk for human health and the environment.”

Next steps

Parliament is scheduled to vote on its position during the April II 2024 plenary session. The file will be followed up by the new Parliament after the European elections on 6-9 June.


In its 2021 action plan “Towards zero pollution for Air, Water and Soil”, the Commission proposed that, by 2030, the EU should reduce (intentional and unintentional) microplastic releases into the environment by 30%. Around 57 million tons pellets were produced and handled in the EU in 2021. Between 52.140 and 184.290 tonnes of pellets are estimated to have been lost to the environment in the EU in 2019.