Plastic never really decomposes, but over time degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. First, it turns into ‘microplastics’, pieces of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters. Then it fragments into the even smaller ‘nanoplastics’, which are no longer visible to the naked eye.
Microplastics originating from larger pieces of plastic that slowly degrade into ever smaller pieces are called secondary microplastics. Microplastics that are deliberately produced and added to our cosmetics (which often flow straight into the environment as tiny grains of plastic when we wash them off) are called primary microplastics.
With our free Beat the Microbead app, you can scan all your personal care and cosmetic products for yourself to see if they contain plastic ingredients. Our Ocean Clean Wash campaign will additionally teach you all about microfibers and the relationship between your clothes and plastic in the ocean.