Our new campaign strategy
Tonnes of microplastics used in cosmetics are entering the oceans every year. A growing number of studies show how these particles cause harm to the marine environment and penetrate the food chain. The US has banned the sale of exfoliating care products with plastic particles. Other countries are considering bans.
Some years ago the cosmetics industry started to phase out microplastics in cosmetics on a voluntary basis. However, the industry usually defines these microplastics narrowly as particles of polyethylene that are used to exfoliate. In doing so, it created loopholes to continue the use of other microplastics in cosmetics. The plastic pollution of our waters through cosmetics has therefore not stopped.
In its statements, mainstream industry suggests that cosmetics are now free of microplastics, while they still contain them.
Scientists have identified at least 67 different microplastics that are currently used by the industry (UNEP and TAUW), many more than we knew when we started the global Beat the Microbead campaign in 2012. Microplastics can be found in products like lipstick, eyeliner, sunscreen, deodorant, nail polish and other care products.
Few people understand the difficult chemical names of all these plastics. The naming is confusing for consumers. Furthermore, the labels are often extremely difficult to read – the letters are very small or the ingredients label is under the barcode. And sometimes the products do not even have a list of ingredients. It is very hard for the average consumer to know if a product is free of microplastics.
The International Coalition Beat the Microbead
Plastic Soup Foundation, leader of the international coalition Beat the Microbead (with 95 NGOs in 40 countries) says it is time to change the burden of proof.
From now on, we simply demand that producers, companies and brands make a public statement that their cosmetic products are completely free of any microplastics. Without such a statement, the brand and all its products will be categorised as products that ‘may still contain microplastics’.
- legislation banning all microplastics in cosmetics in all countries, using this simple and clear definition: any plastic ingredient of 5 mm or less;
- companies, producers and brands to publicly announce that their products are 100% free of microplastics.
We will offer companies, consumers and partner NGOs:
- the Look For The Zero logo for companies and brands that declare their products to be free of microplastic ingredients. This logo gives a clear message to consumers and provides a competitive advantage;
- an app that allows consumers to check if a personal care product contains microplastic ingredients;
- a website with product lists that allows consumers to check if a product contains microplastic ingredients.
We list companies, producers and brands in four categories*:
- Red: Products on this list have been found to contain ingredients which are commonly considered to be microplastics.
- Orange: Products on this list have been found to contain one or more of the following types of microplastic ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and Nylon (PA).
- Green: Products on this list do not contain any of the following microplastic ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon (PA) but may contain other types of microplastic ingredients.
- Zero: All products on this list are free from all known microplastic ingredients. Because the producer has verified this fact, this product carries a ‘Look for the Zero’ logo.
* Please find a full definition of the categories on our Product Lists site.