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CTPA Responds to the Environmental Audit Committee Report on Microplastics


24 August 2016

You may have read articles on a Report from the UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) about the environmental impact of microplastics, which also discusses the effects of plastic microbeads from cosmetic products on the marine environment.  The Report follows an EAC hearing on 8 June 2016, at which the Directors-General of CTPA and the European Personal Care Association, Cosmetics Europe, gave evidence. 

Current Cosmetics Industry Action


The industry began the process to phase out microbeads some time ago, and as a result there has already been a dramatic reduction in the use of solid plastic microbeads, reducing any further contribution to the presence of microplastics in the marine environment.  In October 2015, Cosmetics Europe issued a recommendation to discontinue the use of synthetic, solid plastic particles that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment in wash-off cosmetic products used for exfoliating and cleansing.  The Recommendation states this should be achieved by 2020 but in reality the industry’s removal of plastic microbeads will be completed well ahead of this deadline, and far quicker than waiting for any regulatory action to be introduced and implemented.  While the industry would of course be bound by any regulatory ban, plastic microbeads will already have been phased out ahead of any such action.

Dr Chris Flower, Director-General of CTPA, a toxicologist and Chartered Biologist, says: 


"CTPA welcomes the EAC Report as it raises the incredibly important issue of plastics pollution in our seas and highlights the many different contributors that affect it, of which plastic microbeads are just one.  As the EAC report explains, the percentage contribution from cosmetic products to the contamination is small, but the European cosmetics industry is already taking action to stop the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products where those microbeads are likely to enter waterways and ultimately the marine environment. 

"To monitor the industry’s progress in removing microbeads, CTPA recently surveyed its members about the use of plastic microbeads since the Cosmetics Europe Recommendation was issued in October 2015. Companies have reported that any remaining use of plastic microbeads in wash-off products will have been phased-out by 2018, two years ahead of the recommended date of 2020. The findings also show that the use of plastic microbeads had already decreased significantly from figures published earlier in 2015, and by a further 70% since October 2015.

“But this is not ‘job done’, although the cosmetics industry is taking action, microplastics pollution persists and is contributed to by numerous sources.  We look to Government to address plastics pollution on a wider basis to understand the scale of the problem and work towards a sustainable solution.”

Read more about plastics and plastic microbeads.