Greenpeace urges governments worldwide to ban all microbeads

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Greenpeace urges governments worldwide to ban all microbeads

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics

A new study by Greenpeace suggests that most of the world’s cosmetics players are failing to meet the organisation’s environmental standards because of different interpretations of microbeads.

The study, which was compiled by Greenpeace Asia, assessed 30 of the world’s biggest cosmetics and personal care players, and ranked them according to which companies were most committed to completely eradicating microbeads.  This is how they rank.

According to the Greenpeace findings, most brands claimed to have made significant inroads towards eradicating microbeads, but not one of them had reached the benchmark that has been set by the environmental organisation.

Beiersdorf ranks top

The study findings puts Germany-based beauty and personal care giant Beiersdorf at the top of the list, but it is perhaps surprising to discover that, despite the company claiming to have fulfilled its commitment to its own microbead pledge, its achievements still had shortcomings, according to the Greenpeace criteria.

In the study report, Greenpeace points out that Beiersdorf’s microbead ban pledge only sees the company taking action on one particular type of bead, by removing plastic-polythene from all of its formulations.

Greenpeace points out that the company’s action leaves a shortfall with respect to a number of other types of microbead, including polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene – many of which can be barely seen with naked eye.

Not all microbeads are created equally

These microbeads are all plastic-based and many of them have functions that stretch far beyond ‘skin polishing’, with some being included for purely aesthetic purposes, particularly in colour cosmetics and toothpastes.

Indeed, Greenpeace points out the fact that the vast range of microbead plastic materials and the applications for different product formulas means that many cosmetic and personal care brands are not even defining all of these materials as microbeads.

Such loopholes means that the threat of pollution from microbeads to the environment, and specifically waterways, will continue until all cosmetics and personal care companies are on the same page.

Consumers have the power

Greenpeace stresses that until these loopholes are ironed out and governments take up on the example of the US government and introduce total bans, the best means of dealing with the problem is to ensure consumers have the right tools at their fingertips to help them make informed choices.

Currently the tools of choice for consumers wishing to avoid all types of microbeads in the cosmetic and personal care product they buy include Flora and Fauna International’s Good Scrub Guide​ or the Beat the Microbead app.

The Greenpeace report highlights that these tools enable consumers to vote with their wallets and avoid unwittingly contributing to the still growing microbead pollution problem.

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