Cosmetics companies set to finance additional treatment costs for micro-pollutants in water

This week the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted in favour of a report on the European Commission’s proposal for the revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD).

As a result, producers of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics will have to finance costs of additional treatment for micro-pollutants in water.

MEPs have agreed to set up a system of extended producer responsibility (EPR) targeting medicinal products for human use and cosmetic products, which have been identified as the main sources of micro-pollutants in urban wastewater and require additional treatment.

Member states will have to strengthen the monitoring of various elements at the inlets and outlets of urban wastewater treatment plants, including numerous pollutants, microplastics and ‘forever chemicals’ (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS).

“Concerned with the workability of the proposed system” 

Cosmetics Europe, the European trade association for the cosmetics and personal care industry, said it had a number of concerns about the report.

“The impact assessment accompanying the proposal does not provide clear scientific reasoning as to why the cosmetics sector has been chosen,”​ said a spokesperson for Cosmetics Europe.

They continued: “The European cosmetics sector fully supports the overall objectives of the EPR scheme and is ready to take its responsibility and duly contribute to the upgrade of urban wastewater treatment plants. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance that any financial contribution is based on the principle of a fair distribution of the burden between all polluters.”

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