Researchers develop eco-friendly microbead alternative using soy-based technology

A soy-based technology that claims to be an environmentally friendly alternative to microbeads has been developed.

Graduates from Purdue University in Indiana have developed SoyFoliate after realising the beauty industry’s need for an alternative to the plastic beads, following on from the Obama administration’s 2015 restrictions on the manufacture of the beads in personal care products, and now the UK’s ban.

The team, founders Samuel Lewis, Steve Ferris, Alison Switzer and Ryan Pendergast, plan to move forward with phototyping, stability testing and business development of their technology, with hopes to licence a finalised formulation to beauty companies.

Lewis said: “Our environmentally friendly soy microbeads are a highly marketable alternative to use in personal care products. Soy has several biodegradable and hydrophilic properties that make it a great substitute to plastic microbeads. 

“Plastic beads do not absorb water, and soy can over time. To mitigate the problem, we mixed our beads with small amounts of oil to prevent water from saturating the beads and decreasing their rigid properties.”