[1-click poll] How Important is the Exclusion of Microplastics in Your Formulations?

Microplastic alternatives have surged in popularity, with many choices containing greater benefits the microplastics themselves.
Microplastic alternatives have surged in popularity, with many choices containing greater benefits the microplastics themselves.
Image by Deemerwha studio at Adobe Stock

Once a part of many cosmetic products, microplastics have found slowly become phased out as consumer demand for greener products and more research about the harm of microplastics on the environment and people comes to fruition.

Microplastic alternatives have surged in popularity, with many choices containing greater benefits the microplastics themselves. Further, a recent C&T article discussed REACH's ban on microplastics, as well as the history of microbead bans. An excerpt is included below:

2014: In 2014, the U.S. cosmetics industry voluntarily announced a phase out of microbeads used as exfoliants in rinse-off cleansers to reduce the pollution from waste-water effluent. European companies did similarly. Spherical polyethylene beads used for this purpose were the primary materials affected.

2015: In addition, the U.S. Congress passed the Microbead Free Water Act, effective on July 1, 2017, prohibiting the manufacture of rinse-off products containing microbeads.

2017: In 2017, the EU Parliament tasked the ECHA with preparing a dossier assessing the potential need for restricting the use of all “microplastic” materials.15 In this request the EU legislators expanded the scope of materials of concern from microbeads to all microplastics, defined as “synthetic, water insoluble polymers of 5 millimeters (mm) or less (‘synthetic polymer microparticles’) of any dimension that are present in products to confer a sought-after characteristic (‘intentionally present’).”

The goal was to address any risk that microparticles may pose to the aquatic environment (“the Annex XV dossier.”) The revised scope of the concern from microbeads used as exfoliants to polymeric microparticles having the given defined characteristic greatly extends the type of raw materials to include many.

2018: One year later, the EU Parliament requested a ban on microbeads from the European Commission. From March to May 2018, stakeholder input was accepted by ECHA.

2019: On Jan. 29, 2019, ECHA published the Annex XV Restriction dossier to address the estimated 42,000 tonnes of microbeads eventually released to the aquatic environment per year. Microbeads as abrasives were expected to be voluntarily phased out by 2020 but the scope of the proposed “restriction” – effectively, a ban – was expanded to include both rinse-off and leave-on products and not limited to those used as exfoliants.

Given the continued expansion of restrictions on microplastic use in cosmetic products, this made us wonder...

How Important is the Exclusion of Microplastics in Your Formulations?

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