Beat the Micro Bead campaign brings worldwide cosmetics industry to its knees

Source: Plastic Soup Foundation

Amsterdam, 7 May, 2013 – Unilever led the way at the end of 2012 by eliminating micro beads from its personal care products and now Colgate-Palmolive, Beiersdorf and L’Oreal are following suit. The announcement was made during the RTL News Programme of 6 May.

From the shower drain to the sea

Scientists are increasingly worried about these microscopic pieces of plastic. The plastic particles flow down the shower drain to water treatment plants via the sewer. As they are so small, they pass through the treatment plants and end up in the sea. That is precisely where they do not belong, according to the 25 NGOs that have joined the Beat The Bead campaign, started by the PSF and the North Sea Foundation.

Maria Westerbos of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “This is incredibly encouraging, although we are disappointed neither Beiersdorf nor L’Oreal have provided a phase out date for the micro beads.”

Jeroen Dagevos of the North Sea Foundation: “That is why their products will for the moment keep their code red status in our database and on the Warning, Plastics Inside App, available free for iPads and iPhones. Colgate-Palmolive will immediately go to Orange; the company has indicated the products will go plastic free in Europe by end 2013 and worldwide in 2014.”

Westerbos: “The last to hold on tight and to persistently keep polluting our waters, are Procter & Gamble, and Johnson and Johnson. We are very curious to see when they will finally understand. No consumer in the world wants to brush their teeth or wash their hair with plastic.”

The Netherlands leading the way

In 2012, a number of retail chains in the Netherlands decided to stop adding micro beads to their personal care products. The HEMA and Trekpleister went into action: in mid-2013, all their personal care products and cosmetics are free of micro beads. De Tuinen also came on board: the chain has virtually stopped selling any product containing micro plastics. Taking it even further, De Tuinen will from 1 June 2013 refuse to trade with any supplier that has plastic in any of its products.

Remark brands Zarqa, Vogue and Therme are also now plastic-free. Kruidvat has also held true to its promise: its new, micro plastic free products will go on sale towards the end of 2013. Etos will take more time: the chain is expected to start selling its first micro bead plastic products only towards the end of 2013. The Body Shop, part of the L’Oreal Group, most recently also joined, promising it will act “better” soon.

On the Political Front

The Netherlands is also leading on the political front, with government discussing micro beads. Two weeks ago, Dutch state secretary Wilma said she would call on the European Commission to ban the use of plastics in personal care products.