Campaigners call for wider ban on microplastics in beauty products

Campaigners including politicians and academics have called for comprehensive EU microplastic restriction

This comes after upcoming EU regulation that may exclude some synthetic polymers, enabling businesses to continue using them in their products.

Campaign group Plastic Soup Foundation said its research had found that almost nine-in-ten (87%) products from major cosmetics brands contain microplastics. 

This led to a panel discussion ahead of Plastic-free Beauty Day (June 17), featuring Martin Hojsik MEP, Client Earth law and policy advisor Hélène Duguy, Professor Hans Peter Arp from the Department of Environmental Chemistry NGI & Department of Chemistry, Dr David Green from the Centre for Marine & Coastal Zone Management at the University of Aberdeen, and advocacy officer of Plastic Soup Foundation Bentelise Kraaijeveld.

The panel agreed that any watered-down version of an EU microplastics restriction would only pave the way for greenwashing and that synthetic polymers should be regulated in order to prevent damage to both the environment and human health.

Plastic Soup Foundation's research  also estimated that over seven kilos of microplastics deriving from personal care products will end up in the environment across Europe.

Discussing how Europe can lead the fight against microplastics, Martin Hojsik MEP said, “I was hoping we would see more progress by now on this issue. There are challenges on how we regulate but one disappointing thing is that this is not a new problem. We are not waking up to an emerging threat, but for some reason the industry is only just taking notice. It’s shocking that microplastics can be used in so many products.”

Back in 2018, microbeads were successfully banned in the UK to help reduce plastic pollution, proving that bans on microplastics in the health and cosmetic industry can be effective. 

Plastic cotton buds and straws were also banned in England in 2020.

Hélène Duguy said, “We cannot pretend that these microplastics will be replaced and disappear in our environment without action.

"It is quite disappointing that progress has been so slow at EU level despite discussion in many of the member states.”

What do you think about the use of microplastics in cosmetic and healthcare products? Comment below.