Ban and avoid plastic glitters

Amsterdam, 7 December 2018 – Glitters are spreading fast. Nowadays they are found in products such as nail polish, hairspray, shampoo and suntan lotion. Then there are the party-glitters that you put on your face. It all seems harmless and nice, but it is not. Glitters are predominantly made of plastic, often a combination of aluminium and PET. They are flushed away with the shower water and easily end up in the environment.

Worldwide, the sale of all glitter products has grown tremendously in recent years. Most users don’t realize that glitters are bits of plastic and that using them contributes to the plastic soup. Social media such as Instagram are believed to be partly responsible for the growth because people share photos and imitate each other. See for example this page with glitter on tongues.

While the presence of microplastics in care products  has been amply discussed in recent years, glitters seem to have been ignored. The attention was focused primarily on banning microplastics with a scrub function. When legislation prohibits only those plastic scrub particles, glitters and other microplastics are beyond that scope.

Last year English scientists called for a ban on glitter.

Maria Westerbos, Director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “Think twice about wearing glitters the coming holidays, and if you still want to, ask explicitly for glitters that are not made of plastic.”

Photo: Glitter advert

Also read: The European parliament wants to ban microplastics in cosmetics

, ,

The worldwide revolt against plastic beats the industry

Amsterdam, 27 November 2018 The Guardian published a well researched and extensive long read, which analyzes the current worldwide revolt against plastic. In the last few years, people realised that the plastic soup crisis is one of the larger environmental problems of our day, which has to be solved. According to the writer, this realisation occurred after the public outrage of the use of microbeads in cosmetics; oddly enough, he does not refer to the success of the 2012 campaign Beat the Microbead, started by the Plastic Soup Foundation. Consumers didn’t want be complicit in the plastic soup crisis, through a simple act such as washing your hair, just because producers replaced the natural ingredients in shampoos and shrubs by the much cheaper microplastics.

What is the core problem?

For several decades, an alliance of several different, plastic related industries has countered all problems regarding plastic waste with a strategy primarily based on the continued production and increased sales of plastics. According to the Guardian article this is a two-part strategy.

  • The consumer is responsible for the plastic waste and not the plastic producers, is the first part of the strategy. And producers, the interested parties, finance organisations that promote this message. In the United States, this organisation is called Keep America Beautiful and the Dutch sister organisation is called Nederland Schoon.
  • The second part of the strategy is the promotion of the recycling of plastic household waste. This is based on the suggestion that plastic can easily be recycled and that this is a solution for the environmental problems. However, the reality demonstrates that only a very small percentage of plastics can be recycled and the products made of recycled plastic are of inferior quality. Furthermore, not all plastics are separately collected.

But the public recognizes the simplistic ideas behind this strategy and does not accept it anymore, and what is more the public has also convinced their governments. This has finally resulted in a ban on certain plastics products and governments will increasingly place the responsibility of the plastic waste back on the shoulders of the plastic producers.

The author points out a paradox in his article: while we are aware of the seriousness of the problem, we also realize the difficulty and complexity in solving plastic soup crisis. The important players in the plastic industry, for instance, are globally organized and thus difficult to regulate. However, never before has there been such a momentum to take care of the plastic soup crisis.


Also read: Unprecedented heavy lobby against European Commission Proposals


The European Parliament wants to ban microplastics in cosmetics

Amsterdam, 27 September 2018 – Breaking news: the European Parliament has embraced the environment commission’s report entitled Turning plastic wastelands into fields of gold, by a huge majority. The report, compiled by the European Parliamentarian Mark Demesmaeker, supports the Plastic Strategy, Europe’s strategy to address the plastic crisis and to stimulate circularity. The European Parliament accepted the report with 579 votes for, 15 against and 25 abstentions.

The report advocates a ban on microplastics in cosmetics. “The rapporteur believes that the most cost-efficient option is to tackle the use of micro-plastics at source. He therefore calls for a ban on micro-plastics which are intentionally added to products, such as for cosmetics and cleaning products, and for which viable alternatives are available. The recent introduction of legislation that bans the use of plastic micro-beads in rinse-off cosmetic products in some Member States, for example the United Kingdom, prove that this is possible.”

The report also cites the Mermaids Life+ project (and, as a partner in Mermaids, the Plastic Soup Foundation’s special site). Demesmaeker believes that the research has generated significant information and wants the European Commission to set legal minimum requirements for products to avoid the spread of microplastics. Apart from textiles, this should also apply to car tyres, paint and cigarette filters.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation said that “Our efforts over the years to deal with microplastics at source is echoed in this report. Given the overwhelming support of the European Parliament for the report, the European Commission must now come with proposals for legislation. We expect a general European ban on all microplastics in all cosmetics and legal requirements to drastically limit the loss of fibres in synthetic clothing.”

Microplastics are subject to a wide debate and there are significant concerns that the tiny fragments can end up in the food chain but little is still known about the impact on human health.

Weleda International Chooses to Look for the Zero

Amsterdam, 23 April 2018 –  Weleda has informed the Plastic Soup Foundation in writing that it has opted for the Zero. The Swiss concern of natural care products is the largest cosmetics company that opts for the  Look for the Zero . Previously, Weleda Benelux had already taken that step.  

Companies that embrace the Zero declare that microplastics have not been processed in any of their products. Large cosmetic companies have replaced the microbeads of polyethylene with alternatives in recent years, but do not mention that there are dozens of other microplastics in their products. It concerns various products such as lipstick, shaving foam and deodorant.  

The only way to give customers the guarantee that care products are truly free of microplastics is when a brand explains this. The Look for the Zero offers this possibility, including the wearing of a logo. Look for the Zero is part of the international campaign Beat the Microbead and was created because there is no legislation yet prohibiting all microplastics in care products. More than 54 companies have now opted for the Zero. 

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “This is fantastic news. Weleda shows that large cosmetic companies can produce care products without microplastics. There is no excuse for multinationals such as Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, l’Oreal to process microplastics in their products. These companies continue to pollute our oceans. “ 

Also read: From Savon Marseille to refill deostick.


From Marseille soap to refillable deo sticks

Amsterdam, 23 March 2018 – The European Commission’s brand new Plastic Strategy published earlier this year contains steps that must be taken to avoid unnecessary packaging waste and especially single-use products. Personal care products are part of these. Every bathroom is full of plastic containers that are only used once. Most lotions, creams and shampoos are packaged in plastic. Against our better judgement, the question of how to avoid personal care packaging is rarely asked.

Why should soap be wrapped in plastic? The traditional Savon de Marseille shows us that soap does not have to be packaged. The desired amount of shampoo could be tapped from a refill unit in refillable containers that can be used again and again. The brand Loveli has found an elegant solution for the deodorant stick. With conventional deodorant sticks, you simply use the deodorant to disguise any sweaty odours and then throw away the plastic container with its twisting mechanism, while these could easily be reused. Loveli solves this problem by selling reusable deodorant sticks and separate refills packed in paper. Take the refill out of the paper and put it into the stick. Press down and use. Repeat until the plastic container breaks and count how many containers you have saved.

The natural personal care brand Loveli was founded in 2016. It’s founder, Lind Bot, guarantees 100% natural body care. None of her products contain chemicals or microplastics. Loveli has applied for the Beat the Microbead’s Look for the Zero logo.

Also read: Ban on microbeads in UK, Italy and New Zealand

Plastic microdeeltjes zijn vaak terug te vinden in cosmetica voor dagelijks gebruik.
, ,

Ban on microbeads in UK, Italy and New Zealand

Amsterdam, 23 December 2017 – The United Kingdom, Italy and New Zealand plan to ban plastic scrub particles in personal care products. Although these countries are taking a major step, this legislation does not mean no more plastic will enter the sea through the use of personal care products.

In London the government adopted a proposal by a special parliamentary commission to ban the production of these personal care products as of 1 January 2018 and their sale as of July 2018. In the parlementary debate which preceded the decision, references were made to the Beat the Microbead campaign’s Position Paper which among other things calls for a broader ban on microplastics.

The Italian parliament adopted a proposal on 19 December to ban microbeads scrub particles in cosmetics as of 2020. In addition, Italy will be the first country to ban plastic cotton buds as of 2019.

In early December, the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, confirmed her country will ban microbeads as of May 2018, as announced by the previous government. New Zealand’s retailers are already removing these polluting products from their shelves and adapting formulas in their own brands.

In each of these pieces of legislation the ban only affects the plastic particles with a scrub function. However, these products contain other plastics which are not covered by the legislation, such as glitter. In Great Britain, glitter in scrubs is covered by the new legislation, while glitter in make-up or shampoo is not. Most glitter comprises of a combination of aluminum and PET. When used, they pollute water with microplastics just as much as the scrub particles do. According to The Independent, British scientists recently called for a ban on glitter.