The Baltic Sea region should take the lead and ban microplastics in cosmetics
Microplastics from cosmetics are being spread to the marine environment and are causing significant problems for animals and people. Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog is now urging countries and municipalities in the Baltic Sea region to take the lead and ban microplastics in cosmetics.
It is estimated that approximately 40 tonnes of microplastics from cosmetics reach the Baltic Sea each year. Microplastics are thought to be able to damage marine organisms both physically and toxicologically. They are also suspected of being able to carry environmental toxins.
“Plastics in the oceans is one of the most serious global environmental problems we have. Microplastics in cosmetics are entirely unnecessary and alternatives are available. Right now, I’m working on a Swedish ban on microplastics in cosmetics. I see this as an area where Sweden together with other countries and municipalities around the Baltic Sea can demonstrate global leadership,” says Ms Skog.
Baltic Sea conference highlights the role of municipalities in saving the Baltic Sea
On Monday 6 March, Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog participated in the opening of the Baltic Sea Future Congress in Stockholm. The Congress is the first of its kind and focuses on strengthening innovation and leadership for sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region.
“The Baltic Sea region has strong regional cooperation, innovative companies and active municipalities. There are great opportunities for concrete cooperation projects and I believe that the region can lead the way in implementing the 2030 Agenda,” said Ms Skog at the Baltic Sea Future Congress.
The Congress highlights the special significance of strong municipal commitment to saving the Baltic Sea. There are several examples of municipalities now taking concrete steps to get rid of unnecessary microplastics. The City of Gothenburg has already decided to ban the procurement of products containing microplastics. The municipal Procurement Company, in cooperation with the Environmental and Climate Committee, has been tasked with ensuring that City activities cease procuring, using and spreading products containing microplastics.
The Government is working on several fronts to reduce plastics in the oceans
In autumn 2015, the UN adopted 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. One of the Goals concerns the oceans and says that the discharge of marine debris and microplastics at sea must be reduced. On 5–9 June, Sweden will host a global conference on the oceans goal, during which marine plastics will be an important focus area.
The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) is a regional body for environmental cooperation around the Baltic Sea. The contracting parties met last week to discuss how the region is to implement the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda. The Commission has previously adopted an action plan against marine litter. At the meeting, Sweden proposed a common initiative to ban microplastics in cosmetics, in which several countries expressed an interest.
Sweden also leads the work on dangerous substances and plastics in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Through concrete cooperation projects around the Baltic Sea, sources of emission and measures are identified.
[Source: Government of Sweden/Ministry for the Environment-Media Relations]
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