Beauty brands commiting to microbead phase out as environmental threat grows

Growing evidence around the environmental impact plastic microbeads in beauty products are having on oceans is seeing some of the industry's major brands committing to phasing them out.

Used in many personal care and beauty products such as facial exfoliators and body scrubs, plastic microbeads, once washed down the drain, are too small to filter out during wastewater treatment processes and invariably end up in the sea.

According to campaign group Fauna & Flora International, the plethora of beauty products consumers buy, especially at this time of year, may be “doing their skin some good, but they are having a devastating effect on the marine environment”.

Although many companies are still using microbeads, FFI is encouraged to see leading UK retailers and producers of personal care products proactively replacing microplastic exfoliants with biodegradable alternatives.

Unilever, who owns brands such as Dove and Radox, Nivea owner Beiersdorf, L’Oréal and Gillette and Olay owner Procter & Gamble have all committed to phasing out microbeads.

A L’Oreal spokesperson told edie: “Since 1995, L’Oréal has had a research laboratory dedicated to assessing the impact of its formulae on aquatic eco-systems. L’Oreal has decided to address the concerns about plastic microbeads and to eliminate their use as exfoliant in scrubs.”

Also committing to tackling the issue, Estee Lauder has said that it was aware of the concerns around microbeads contributing to marine litter.

According to a spokesperson, Estee Lauder is currently in the process of removing microbeads in the “small number of our products that currently contain them”.

FFI’s marine plastics officer Tanya Cox said: “We are encouraging businesses, especially forward-thinking businesses with strong CSR policies, to question what is going in their products, and also those additional ingredients and chemicals, and questioning what impact they’re likely to be having as well”.

For more on the growing environmental issue of plastic microbeads read ‘Microbeads pollution – a drop in the Ocean for the beauty industry’ here

Leigh Stringer

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