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

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

Coffee roaster looks to improve footprint of single cup systems

April 22, 2014 1:30 pm ET

One of the largest coffee and tea manufacturers in North America has introduced a single-serve beverage capsule intended to curb the waste created by ...    More

Two Eastman buildings among 10 biggest energy savers in national contest

April 22, 2014 11:35 am ET

Two offices at the headquarters of Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., ranked in the Top 10 for energy efficiency in the latest Energy Star...    More

Europe's bag use still expected to climb despite possible bag restrictions

April 22, 2014 9:29 am ET

Ceresana, a Germany-based research company, has released a report forecasting that by 2020 the sales volume of bags and sacks in Europe will reach 9....    More

DuPont: Asia's food packaging market at a major transition point

April 21, 2014 1:26 pm ET

DuPont Co. touted its packaging innovations and applications, and updated the firm's commercial status at a media event two days before the Chinaplas ...    More

Image

Inventor taps into TV exposure, crowd funding for water bottle project

April 21, 2014 3:26 pm ET

An Australian inventor has developed a reusable plastic water bottle with a filter in a bid to get more people to drink tap water instead of buying di...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events