The news will not come as a shock to some as many brands, both big and small, have already pledged to discontinue the use of plastic microbeads, often used in exfoliating and cleansing products.
Cosmetics Europe is therefore making this announcement in order to engage the whole of its membership and to facilitate sector wide best practice.
“In adopting this Recommendation, Cosmetics Europe and its membership are addressing public concerns, and committing to work with regulators on a science based approach to the issue of plastic micro particles,” says Loïc Armand, President of Cosmetics Europe.
“We are also committed to building, with other international associations, global alignment of the cosmetics industry on this issue.”
The topic of plastic microbeads in the marine environment and waterways is not a particularly new one to the industry, but has become an issue of increasing public debate recently.
According to the Federal Environment Agency in Germany, scientific evidence suggests that the vast majority of small plastic particles in the seas come from the breakdown of bigger plastic materials.
Although often highlighted in the context of marine litter debate, the use of solid plastic micro particles in cosmetic and personal care products is considered to be limited compared to other sources.
Cosmetics Europe’s new recommendation on the matter is voluntary in its nature and non-binding, though many individual member companies of the association have already publicly stated that they will discontinue microbead use in cosmetics, that are most likely to end up in the aquatic environment and for which alternatives exist.
In order to facilitate global alignment, Cosmetics Europe is working in close contact with its international association partners.
The recommendation reads as follows:
“In view of the public concerns expressed over plastic debris in the marine environment, and given the availability of alternative materials, Cosmetics Europe recommends its membership to discontinue, in wash-off cosmetic products placed on the market as of 2020: The use of synthetic, solid plastic particles used for exfoliating and cleansing that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment.”
The trade association says it stands ready and is committed to working in partnership with the European authorities to gather scientific data to allow a further assessment of the issue, and that this knowledge will facilitate scientific decision making and prioritise measures that will result in a true benefit for the environment by reducing the amount of plastic litter in the marine environment.