The World Takes on Microplastics

Discussed at the Personal Care Products Council International Committee Meeting, there is hopefully going to be a worldwide ban on microplastics in cosmetic products.  Microbeads are commonly used in facial scrubs and cleansers, and once washed down the drain end up in oceans, swallowed by marine life, and potentially lingering in the systems of aquatic life.  However, no conclusive evidence has been found that biomagnification of microplastics through the food chain to humans is threatening to human health.

Starting with Canada, there is a proposed CEPA regulation to ban the manufacturing and importing of personal care products containing microbeads.  A public consultation draft is expected at the end of October of this year, with all microplastic products expected to be banned by the end of 2017.  In July of this year microbeads were added to list of toxic substances.  A worrying amount of microplastics have been found in the Ottawa River, and microplastics have been found in the digestive system of tiny organisms off the coast of Canada’s west coast.

President Obama signed into law H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act 2015 in December of 2015.  The legislation will ban production of personal care products containing microplastic by July 2017, ban sale by July 2018, and OTC drugs containing microplastic by 2019.  Illinois was the first state to ban the sale of microplastic-containing products back in 2014.

The UK announced that by the end of 2017, microplastics will be banned in cosmetics sold in the country.  The supermarket chain Waitrose announced they will discontinue the sale of these products containing microplastics by the end of September this year.  Twenty-five UK cosmetic and toiletry companies have already begun to phase out these cosmetics from store shelves.  Greenpeace has called for a ban on all personal care products, household cleaners, and any other products that contain microplastics that are washed down the drain.

Australia is looking at banning microplastic products by the end of 2017.  EU Environmental Ministers called for a ban on microplastics in cosmetics back in June.  France will ban microplastics only in facial scrubs.  Other countries looking at banning microplastic products include Italy, Sweden, and Denmark.

The good news is there are many good natural or biodegradable alternatives being made or developed to replace plastic microbeads, such as particles made of cellulose.

We hope that this information is helpful to you.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Focal Point Research.  We are industry leading Consultants that you can trust to help guide your company in the right direction.