South Korea South Korean Health and Welfare Committee to submit a bill regulating microplastics contained in consumer chemical products

On July 12, 2021, the South Korean National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee proposed an amendment to the Consumer Chemical Products and Biocides Safety Act (hereinafter “K-BPR”) that stipulates a standard for content of microplastics in consumer chemical products. With the amendment, the Committee aims to regulate microplastics contained in such products. The Committee commented that the proposed amendment provides the standard for microplastic level, as a safety standard for consumer chemical products. The bill is expected to be submitted to the standing committee of the National Assembly for review, and then sent to the plenary session of the National Assembly for review. However, as of August 5, 2021, there has been no information released on the review at the plenary session.

On hazards of microplastics, the Health and Welfare Committee explained that the sizes of tiny capsules that hold fragrances in fabric softeners or other products are as small as 10 μm and such capsules are made of microplastics, causing pollution to aquatic ecosystems. The Committee also pointed out that microplastics are banned as raw materials and as additives in quasi-drugs and cosmetics, but there are no regulations that control microplastics contained in consumer chemical products. As a result, microplastics are currently widely used in consumer chemical and biocidal products.

The K-BPR requires biocidal products containing biocides to be approved by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) before they are manufactured or imported. Under K-BPR, about 35 consumer chemical products (e.g., detergents, printing inks and toners, and disinfectants) are defined as “consumer chemical products subject to safety check” and regulated by the safety and labeling standards. These products must be inspected, before being manufactured or imported, by a testing laboratory to ensure that they meet the safety standards, and the results must be reported to the MOE.

 

Note that the proposed amendment to K-BPR, which contains new standards for the content of microplastics, has yet been publicized (as of August 6, 2021).

The notice on the proposed amendment can be viewed at:
http://www.hkbs.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=639672