Unilever to phase out plastic micro beads

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: December 28, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Consumer Products, Sustainability, Materials, Suppliers

LONDON (Updated Jan. 3, 11:20 a.m. ET) — Personal care products giant Unilever NV will phase out the use of plastic micro beads used as a “scrub” material following a call from environmental groups to eliminate them and help reduce the plastics in oceans and other waterways.

The environmental group 5 Gyres Institute has studied the impact plastic micro beads have on the environment. It wants the makers of facial cleansers to eliminate the tiny pieces of plastic, which are intended to help exfoliate the skin, because the beads are small enough to slip through waste treatment systems and end up in public watersheds.

In a brief statement, Unilever, based in London and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, said that the issue of plastics in the ocean is an “important issue,” and that it had reviewed its use of micro beads in its portfolio of current and future products.

The company will phase out its use over the coming years, and completely eliminate the use of microplastics for scrubs in 2015.

Marcus Eriksen, executive director of 5 Gyres, praised Unilever for its fast response and said the group will make formal requests to other users microplastics to follow Unilever’s lead and phase out their use. Other micro bead users include Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena and Procter & Gamble, he said.

Plastic is a good material, Eriksen said in a Jan. 3 telephone interview, but its use as a facial scrubber makes no environmental sense. The beads — about a third of a millimeter — float and look like fish food and fish eggs, which makes them nearly impossible to clean out of the water once they slip through the wastewater process.

The group is about to publish the results of its study on microplastics in the Great Lakes conducted this summer, he said.

Eriksen also noted that other alternatives already exist to plastic micro beads, such as ground up apricot pits, which naturally break down. Those alternatives already are used by some small firms, he said.


Comments

Unilever to phase out plastic micro beads

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: December 28, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Newell Rubbermaid expanding production, employment in Kansas

March 3, 2015 3:31 pm ET

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. is expanding and extending plastics molding technologies at its Winfield, Kan., manufacturing plant and distribution center.    More

Image

Best Places To Work: No. 1, Northstar Recycling Co. Inc.

March 3, 2015 12:29 pm ET

Employee health care benefits have been wasting away, year after year, as companies work to contain costs and keep their bottom lines in shape....    More

Image

Best Places To Work: No. 3, Sun Plastech Inc.

March 3, 2015 2:25 pm ET

Sun Plastech Inc., No. 3 on Plastics News' Best Places to Work ranking, offers so many interesting benefits and perks, it's hard to know where to...    More

Image

Best Places To Work: No. 4, Ayanna Plastics & Engineering Inc.

March 3, 2015 2:39 pm ET

Ayanna Plastics & Engineering Inc., a Clearwater, Fla., injection molder and toolmaker, ranks No. 4 on the Plastics News Best Places to Work list....    More

Image

Bayer expands with acquisition of Germany's Thermoplast Composite

March 3, 2015 10:59 am ET

Bayer AG's Bayer MaterialScience LLC has bought composite materials specialist Thermoplast Composite GmbH based near Nuremberg, Germany.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events