Good news on microbead phase-out

August 21, 2018

Good news on microbead phase-out

“Microbeads successfully phasing out in cosmetics & personal care products,” say Australia’s Environment Ministers.

The excellent industry progress in phasing out solid plastic microbeads has been recognised at the 27 April Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM). 

“The voluntary phase-out of microbeads, which Ministers initiated in 2016, is on track,” said the MEM Statement.

Coordinated by industry body Accord Australasia under the BeadRecede campaign, the voluntary phase-out commenced in February 2017 and has a deadline of 1 July 2018 for the phase-out of solid plastic microbeads in rinse-off and exfoliating cosmetic, personal care and cleaning products. 

Even though research around the globe has shown that the cosmetic and personal care industry’s contribution to plastic marine litter is very minor, our industry took swift action to voluntarily remove microbeads from these rinse-off and exfoliating products.

This was also recognised in the media release by Federal Environment Ministers Frydenberg and Price, which stated, “Industry has successfully risen to the challenge issued by Australia’s environment ministers to voluntarily phase out the use of microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products”.

Accord has been actively involved on the issue of microbeads over several years. This has included submission of two independently validated progress reports that show strong commitment to voluntary action across our industry in removal of microbeads. 

An independently commissioned survey of products in the marketplace conducted in late-2017 also confirmed the industry’s significant progress, including by establishing that no shampoos, conditioners, body washes or hand cleaners sampled contained solid plastic microbeads.

Although this survey also included leave-on products and other polymers that were not present in microbead form, 94 per cent of all products sampled did not contain plastic microbeads or indeed other non-soluble plastic polymers. Of the remaining 6 per cent, most were leave-on, not rinse-off, nor otherwise reasonably capable of entering the marine environment. Products directly relevant to the voluntary phase out of microbeads such as facial scrubs were a smaller fraction of this, estimated as no more than 0.6 per cent.

Thank you to all companies that responded so quickly to the call for a voluntary phase-out. 

Accord will conduct one further survey of the industry via BeadRecede prior to the 1 July deadline, and we understand that another independent survey of microbeads in the marketplace will likely be conducted after the 1 July 2018 deadline to further validate the success of the voluntary phase-out.

Accord will also continue to encourage similar policy action on other, much more significant sources of microplastic in the marine environment such as synthetic fabric microfibres.

Accord Australasia is the peak body representing companies operating in the cosmetic, fragrance, personal care and toiletries sector – from multinationals to small Australian-owned businesses, importers to local manufacturers. www.accord.asn.au




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