Five years ago nine US states recognized the devastating effects of microplastics on marine life, and though they only whispered it; on human health, and took action to ban it.
“They may be smaller than a pinhead, but once they’ve been flushed down the drain is where the problem starts.” said Congressman Fred Upton in 2015, when the legislation was passed.
Microbeads are plastic particles less than 1-5 mm in size generally seen in scrubs, washes, or toothpaste. Because of their size they tend to escape water treatment plant filters and end up in streams and rivers, and ultimately get washed into the ocean.
All along the way they get consumed by fish, which get consumed by other fish and eventually get consumed by people.
More recently the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment banned the manufacturing of microbeads and products containing them. The ban is scheduled to be in full effect by the end of 2020, and in effect in the consumer market by 2022.
Plastic microbeads in cosmetics are typically used in two categories: as abrasives in rinse-off cosmetics such as facial cleansers, shower gels and toothpaste; and as bulking agents or film-forming agents in leave-on products such as sunscreens and makeup (foundations, lipsticks, etc.) to improve the skin texture, enhance the tinting strength of pigments or increase the adhesion of the powder.
The beauty and personal care industries are really getting a responsibility check and its finally going mainstream. We’re excited to see brands shifting into the clean and environment standards.