Cosmetics firms nixing exfoliation microbeads

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: June 7, 2013 3:43 pm ET
Updated: June 7, 2013 4:05 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability Consumer Products
Companies & Associations

WASHINGTON — Gently exfoliating PE microbeads will soon be disappearing from cosmetics — and the watershed.

California-based environmental group 5 Gyres has been pressuring large cosmetics and personal-care companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Unilever to remove or revamp products because the pieces of plastic, sometimes only a matter of microns each in size, are slipping through U.S. water filtration systems and ending up in oceans and lakes.

After approaching several companies, including Unilever at the end of 2012 and Body Shop earlier this year, 5 Gyres claimed victory again this month when Johnson & Johnson publicly announced plans are in the works to remove microbeads from its products.

"Our commitment is to give consumers peace of mind that our products are gentle on people and gentle on the environment," said Johnson & Johson spokesperson Samatha Lucas, via email. "We have been researching alternatives to plastic microbeads for some time, and planning to phase out."

The firm, which owns personal-care brands such as Neutrogena, Roc, Lubriderm and others, has already stopped developing new products containing plastic microbeads, Lucas said, and is conducting an environmental safety assessment of "a promising alternative."

Microbeads have only become popular in the cosmetics market in the last decade, as a gentle exfoliating alternative to items such as ground walnut shells, which can have sharp edges that tear sensitive skin or pose an allergy risk to some consumers.

The push to get microbeads off the market began last summer, after 5 Gyres conducted a Great Lakes study, expected to be published this August or September, that found 600,000 microbeads per square kilometer (0.39 square mile) in two different Lake Erie samples, according to the group's spokesman, Stiv Wilson.

"We didn't even know we had them, at first," said Wilson, who personally took the samples. "You can't really see them and it's not like they float on the surface. But you run the water through a coffee filter and you can see them with the naked eye … up to 10 milliliters of a 100-milliliter sample was plastic. Trillions and trillions and trillions of these beads are going into the water."

The environmental group has had some success in convincing large companies to look into removing microbeads from their products but have had less traction with Cincinnati-based personal-care giant Procter & Gamble. 5 Gyers plans to target the company in an upcoming campaign to get microbeads off the market.

"I think the companies know that once it gets out to consumers that they're washing their face with plastic, they're going to have a problem," he said.

Procter & Gamble did not return phone calls regarding this story.


Comments

Cosmetics firms nixing exfoliation microbeads

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: June 7, 2013 3:43 pm ET
Updated: June 7, 2013 4:05 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

PolyOne launches Geon BIO PVC using soy-based materials

April 24, 2015 11:48 am ET

More than a decade of research is paying off for Battelle Memorial Institute in the form of Geon BIO PVC compounds from PolyOne Corp.    More

Image

California may require more recycled content in bottles

April 24, 2015 11:16 am ET

California lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would bump up the required recycled content in plastic bottles for beverage companies to...    More

Image

KHS cuts packaging with direct printing on PET bottles, adhesive multi-packs

April 23, 2015 1:39 pm ET

KHS GmbH has been pouring a lot of time into solving issues related to direct printing on PET bottles, and after eight years of work, everyone...    More

Image

DuPont center in India gets LEED Certification

April 23, 2015 1:07 pm ET

DuPont Co.'s Knowledge Center in Hyderabad, India, was awarded LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.    More

Image

MeadWestvaco joins the Recycling Partnership

April 23, 2015 11:19 am ET

MeadWestvaco Corp., a global packaging company with some operations in plastics, is joining the Recycling Partnership.    More

Market Reports

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

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events