Nordic Council: Ban microplastics in cosmetics

25.01.17 | News
Hanna Kosonen
Johannes Jansson/
The Nordic Council is drawing up a complete ban on microplastics in cosmetics and skin care products. If this consumer-related proposal does indeed come into effect, it will make the Nordic Region a global pioneer in legislating on plastics.

The chairperson of the Nordic Council’s committee for a sustainable Nordic Region Hanna Kosonen (Centre Party of Finland) stresses that while the proposal does not claim to be able to dramatically reduce the levels of microplastics in seas and rivers, its significance is multifaceted.

“A ban is of value as a signal to the business community and policy makers in other parts of the world. This is because it puts the adverse effects of microplastics in the spotlight and has the potential to accelerate political action and decisions to the benefit of both people and the environment,” Kosonen says. 

40 tonnes in the sea

The report “Sources of microplastic pollution to the marine environment” says that microplastics in cosmetics result in 40 tonnes of microplastics being discharged into the sea each year in Norway alone. Comparable statistics have also been published in Denmark. Consumer and environmental organisations as well as the plastics industry itself – which the Nordic Council consulted during the process – are positive towards a ban.

Issues surrounding plastics have attracted cross-party interest in the Nordic Council recently. Although the current proposal started as an initiative of the Social Democratic Group, microplastics have also featured on the agenda of the Centre Group.

Car tyres a major problem

Kosonen restates that the Nordic Council’s sustainability committee is continuing to work on reducing plastic waste and the over use of plastic.

“Many don’t know that car tyres are the biggest source of microplastics in our oceans. This could be a target for a joint Nordic effort in the future. For now we’re working on a proposal from the Centre Group to reduce plastic waste in the form of, for example, plastic bags and non-biodegradable plastics in the Nordic Region,” Kosonen says.

  • The proposal for a Nordic ban on microplastics in cosmetics will be debated in a plenary session at the spring session of the Nordic Council which will take place in Stockholm on 3 and 4 April.