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This is a newsletter from Incotec. About 5 times per year, we update you on the latest developments around microplastics in the seed industry.  We will keep you informed of the public debate, any updates in regulations and the development of microplastic-free solutions. We will not ‘spam’ you with any other topics. If you want to unsubscribe, just click on the link on the bottom of the page and we will not bother you again. 

News: Microplastic-free film coats for vegetables one step closer

Incotec is one step closer to commercially introducing the new generation of microplastic-free film coats for vegetables. The upscaling trials in January were successfully completed. This means that samples are available for customers.
The new coatings are part of a range of microplastic-free seed coatings that Incotec is offering in anticipation of restrictive legislation, and are compatible with commonly used plant protection products. Marta Dobrowolska-Haywood: “We have developed a new range of microplastic-free vegetable seed coatings that deliver high quality results. The range is available in 5 vibrant colours and offers excellent performance in all quality aspects. They are REACH and EPA compliant and have been validated on the rotary coater as well as the rotary dry coater.’’

Dr. Marta Dobrowolska-Haywood, Manager R&D
3 things you need to know about microplastics 

Questions and answers

What test methods are used to determine whether a sample contains microplastic? 

Methods for microplastic analysis are needed to understand the impact of microplastics on the environment more systematically. Quantitative measurements and analysis techniques have not yet been established. The analysis techniques used currently have limitations in terms of detection limit and speed. Examples of non-destructive analysis methods include microscopy, microscopy with spectroscopy, microscopy with FTIR, and microscopy with Raman spectroscopy. Destructive analyses include liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC/MS/UV), gas chromatography connected with mass spectrometry (GC/MS), subsuming pyrolysis/gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Pyr/GC/MS), and thermal desorption gas chromatography (TD/GC/MS). 

Are the timelines originally proposed still being met or could there be a delay?

There has been some delay in finalising the opinions by the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC), yet in 2022 the European Union member states may still adopt the restriction. After that there will be a thorough check by the EU council and Parliament after which the restriction proposal is adopted. This will be sooner than by the end of 2022 or 2023. Taking into consideration the proposed 5-year transition period for binders and the 8-year transition period for plant protection products, a likely scenario would be that the restriction will come into effect in January 2028 for binders and January 2031 for PPPs.
Might individual countries deviate from these timelines?

Indeed, there are indications that France, which is a leading country in Europe when it comes to agricultural production, might be considering already implementing the restriction on 1 January 2027. Which would be 1 year sooner than elsewhere in Europe. It is unclear whether France would allow plant protection products an extra extension of three years which might put (even) more pressure on chemical companies, seed enhancement companies and seed companies to join forces in developing microplastic free solutions.

•    What are microplastics? 
•    Why are microplastics a problem?
•    What is the restriction proposal about?
•    Are microplastic-free solutions just another trend in the seed treatment industry? 
•    What effect has COVID-19 on the timing around the proposed restriction?
•    What is the difference between seed safety and environmental safety? 
•    What will be the seed-safety profile of the new microplastic-free film coats? 
•    What is the expectation for similar regulations in the USA or in other parts of the world? 
•    What are degradation requirements in soil for microplastic-free alternatives? 
•    Will formulation alternatives impact final product costs? 
•    Which are prominent contributors to the release of microplastics in Europe?
•    Are all natural, water soluble polymers alternatives to replace microplastics in film coats?
•    What is the biggest challenge with alternatives for synthetic polymers?
•    What biodegradability tests are available?  
•    What is water-soluble polymers derogation?
•    Microplastics are everywhere but are they harmful?
•    Is there an update on the vote by European Parliament? 
•    Is the scope of the restriction expected to change?  
•    What other legislative activities are there around (micro)plastics in Europe?
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