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Microbeads in the news

(February 15, 2017)

Microbeads are in the news again, as YouGov survey  for the microbeads coalition show that many people wash their make-up and skin care products down the drain.  

The survey found that:

  • 42% of users wash off face make-up (e.g. foundation, blusher, concealer) down the drain
  • 60% of people who don’t use make-up, but do use skincare products like sun cream wash them down the drain
  • A third of people using lip and eye products wash them down the drain (33% and 34% respectively)
  • Across all three make-up types, 42% of people who wear make-up end up washing it down the drain
  • 61% of people who wear make-up rarely or never read product label information regarding removal methods for face, eye and lip make-up products.

The microbeads coalition consists of the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, Greenpeace UK and the Marine Conservation Society.

And although some of these product types have microplastic ingredients, they escape the government's proposed microbeads ban.

The current proposal Defra has restricts itself to "rinse off products" and that's caused confusion.  The problem is that products with microplastics in them will still enter the ocean if the government excludes them from the microbeads ban.

The coalition has issued this statement and I quote:

‘Many countries around the world, from India to Korea to New Zealand, are now looking at banning microplastics in products that can end up in the sea, and they’re looking to the UK to provide a model of how best to do that. By implementing a robust and comprehensive ban of microplastics in all products which can reach drainage, this government can have a truly global impact.

‘We’ve already seen the problematic loopholes in the US legislation, which limited the ban to “rinse off” products that perform an “exfoliating” function and ended up allowing other types of products containing microplastics to keep pouring into our oceans.

‘With trillions of microplastics already in the sea, this really is a global issue and the British Government must seize the opportunity to create a world-leading ban.’

Microbead free - Age Defy+ Soft Buff Skin Exfoliator 30ML from Green People
Microbead free - Age Defy+ Soft Buff Skin Exfoliator 30ML from Green People

Sugar Scrub from Green People, microbead free

Microbead free products from Neal's Yard

The coalition is asking the Government to follow the guidelines below recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee and developed by Fauna & Flora International (and I quote):

  • "Any definition of ‘microbeads’ must include all solid plastic ingredients smaller than 5mm used for any purpose (not just for exfoliation). There should be no lower size limit included in the definition;
  • The legislation should cover all products that are washed down the drain or are directly discharged into waterways or the marine environment. This includes a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products as well as cleaning products, make-up, and industrial products;
  • Legislation should not allow so-called ‘biodegradable’ plastics to be used as alternatives, as these materials do not degrade in the marine environment and therefore are not a solution to the problem;
  • There should be a clear and prompt timeline for phasing out these ingredients, and a date after which products containing microplastics must not be sold."

So please check the ingredients of any make-up before you buy;  think about how you wash it off;  or, why not start giving yourself a break-up from make-up altogether? 

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