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 Materials, Suppliers, Sustainability, Consumer Products

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

Oxford Polymers adds compounding capacity

January 30, 2015 1:16 pm ET

Materials maker Oxford Polymers has increased its compounding capacity by installing a new single-screw extrusion line.    More

Image

Marval's next generation expands capacity

January 30, 2015 1:27 pm ET

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — There’s a lot of history at Marval Industries Inc., but the 59-year-old compounding firm also is looking toward the...    More

Image

Yizumi's stock price shoots up

January 30, 2015 11:56 am ET

Chinese injection press maker Guangdong Yizumi Precision Machinery Co. Ltd. has seen its stock price more than double in the first five trading days...    More

Image

Lubrizol buys Brazil-based coatings technology manufacturer

January 30, 2015 11:50 am ET

Specialty chemicals company Lubrizol Corp. of Wickliffe, Ohio, said it has acquired a Brazilian company that makes coatings technology for products...    More

Image

China to lead the way on robots

January 30, 2015 11:12 am ET

More industrial robots will be operating in China’s production plants than in the European Union or North America by 2017.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

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

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

More Events