Banning plastic microbeads

Posted by Peter MUIR


Plastic Free Seas has found some success in their advocacy campaign to ban microbeads in Hong Kong. Many leading brands of personal care products use microbeads, tiny particles of plastic, as an exfoliating and cleansing ingredient. These products are designed to be washed down the drain where the microbeads can pass through wastewater and sewage filtration systems, and are ultimately released out to sea. Microbeads act as sponges, absorbing and accumulating persistent organic pollutants (flame retardants, dioxins and pesticides), which are present in lakes and oceans. In addition, microbeads never fully degrade.

Scientific studies have shown that microbeads can be ingested by sea animals such as plankton, clams and shrimp. As these organisms are at the bottom of the marine food chain, it is likely that the fish and seafood we are eating may have ingested these potentially toxic microbeads.

The number of microbeads per product varies widely. One commonly used scrub product sold in Hong Kong states on the packaging that it contains 1,000,000 black and white ‘scrubs’ in the 100ml tube. Another brand claims it contains 2,000 beads per use.

Sa Sa, a leading cosmetics retailing group in Asia with over 280 retail stores, is the first Hong Kong retail group to commit to a phaseout timeline for microbeads. Their private label products will be free of microbeads by December 2018 and their non private labels will be encouraged to meet this deadline too.

Why not get involved in this campaign as a part of your CE efforts? Aside from evaluating (and eliminating) your own use of products that contain microbeads, get involved in creating awareness about this campaign. Sign their petition, then get in touch with Plastic Free Seas and see how you can further support them.