Microbeads phase out in cosmetics is in disarray, research reveals

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26th July 2016 12:08 - Chemicals

Microbeads phase out in cosmetics is in disarray, research reveals: A recent investigation by Greenpeace, an environmental activist organisation, has revealed that the voluntary action taken by cosmetics manufacturers, with regards to the phase out of the use of microbeads in their products, is in disarray.Microbeads phase out in cosmetics is in disarray, research reveals

Microbeads are small beads of plastics which are so tiny, they are able to pass through water filtration systems and can enter into the sea and waterways as a result. Microbeads are usually found in cosmetics, household cosmetics, shaving gels, toothpastes and detergents. They are mainly used as exfoliants, but also for decoration.

It is not yet clear what effect microbeads have on marine life and humans who consume polluted fish, however, research has revealed that a large percentage of fish and other sea life have consumed plastic.  Research from Plymouth University revealed that microplastic was found in 36.5 per cent of fish analysed. These fish were soured in the English Channel.

Another piece of research by Swedish research has also revealed that fish that are exposed to microplastics as larvae would rather consume plastic than their normal prey. The researchers concluded that this could have notable effects on aquatic ecosystems.

It has been estimated that 950,000 tonnes of microplastics make their way into the ocean every year – 35,000 tonnes of which comes from cosmetics.

Up until now, the steps taken to reduce the use of microbeads and plastics have mainly been voluntary, with some manufacturers, such as Colgate-Palmolive, ceasing to use microbeads in their products. Other brands, such as Boots and Marks and Spencer, have vowed to stop the use of microbeads by the end of the year (2016). Reckitt Benckiser, L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson have also claimed that they will cease the use of microbeads by 2017.

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