Microbeads in products

Photo courtesy of beingcontent.com

Having previously being led to believe that the EU was all over the microbead issue, I’ve today found out that the exact opposite is the case.
There are currently no plans to ban the use of microbeads in Europe, unlike the USA, where President Obama signed a bill banning microbeads in December 2015. This means that brands that retail in the USA will have to make quick, sweeping changes in production as manufacturing is banned from mid 2017 and the full ban comes into effect two years later. Canada is also banning them.

If you are unaware of microbeads and what they are, there is a wealth of information online but in short they are the tiny plastic beads used in toothpastes and scrubs (face and body) that are basically polluting the waters and messing with our sealife.
In short, we wash them down the drain, they get into our waters and fish/birds/whales/sealife in general mistakenly eat them. We then eat the fish, although the beads of plastic are deemed ‘safe’ for human consumption. (Erm, ok then?)
Not great for the environment or sealife. And this is why the EU aren’t concerned. It’s an ‘environment’ issue, not a ‘public health’ issue.

Microbeads are proven very safe for topical human contact so obviously for that reason are found in products across all price ranges from Neutrogena (a LOT), Olay and Aveeno to Clarins, Clinique, Kate Somerville, Bliss and Dermalogica , just to name a few. I found over 500 products using a simple search for ‘microbeads’ and the ingredient names.

US brands will now have to make the switch asap – let’s hope they don’t stick all their excess ‘plastic’ stock on a boat to retail in Europe, where apparently, the EU don’t mind the damage they do.
I imagine most of it will turn up on the grey market via 3rd party sellers on Amazon/Strawberry.net/eBay etc.

The UK government may not care but I do, and I think you, the consumer, does to. I won’t be reviewing anything that contains microbeads on here and I would imagine my fellow bloggers feel the same way.

And for you the customer? The two words you are looking for on packaging are: polyethylene and polypropylene. Avoid. Hit the brands where it hurts. With your wallets.

More info:

*Updated 9pm – Johnson & Johnson contacted me today to reiterate the following:
‘In 2013, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies Inc. became one of the first companies to commit to removing polyethylene microbeads from its personal care products globally. Our goal is to remove microbeads from our products globally by the end of 2017, having met our 2015 commitment and now having alternatives available to our consumers. As always, our goal is to choose ingredients that are safe and environmentally sound and provide consumers with a great experience.’

*Updated 15.04.16 – The Body Shop sent this response to reassure their customers.

‘In 2014 we made a commitment to replace these ingredients with a naturally-derived alternative during 2015, which we fulfilled. The materials that replace the polyethylene micro beads are either natural or naturally derived and biodegradable.’