Plastic microbeads may be tiny, but they have become a highly controversial environmental issue. In recent years, they have been a common ingredient in exfoliating scrubs for the face and body, as well as in other personal care products such as toothpaste. There are no human health concerns associated with the use of microbeads, the danger is after the product has been used and washed down the drain.
Research from Plymouth University found that between 5,000 and 95,000 individual microbeads could be released in a single facial scrub application. Depending on the size of the beads, they may be too small to be filtered out of water at the treatment plant. This creates an estimated 80 tonnes of microplastic waste entering the sea every year, just in the UK.
Many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand are well underway to banning the manufacture and sale of plastic microbeads and the products that contain them. This is being done in stages to allow manufacturers time to reformulate products and allow retailers time to sell their existing stock.
The ban means that manufacturers have been looking towards more biodegradable exfoliating ingredients. Some of the top candidates are naturally abrasive materials such as seeds, minerals, shells and kernels, as well as some more unconventional materials such as flowers, leaves and fruit which are incorporated for additional effects like hydration and skin toning. As always, the industry is rising to the challenge of responding to consumer demand for more environmentally conscious products, while maintaining the same quality and efficacy.
We hope that you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Focal Point Research. We are industry leading Cosmetic Regulatory Consultants that you can trust to help guide your company in the right direction.