A new era

Every year, around 2000 Tons of microplastics from personal care products, for example microbeads with an exfoliating function for shower gels and various “rinse-off” cleansing products, are poured into seas, together with microplastics having specific technical properties used in face and body creams, sunscreens and make-up, non-rinsing, or “leave-on” products.

Common microplastics are not biodegradable and once in the environment, they could accumulate in animals, including fi sh and shellfi sh and consequently end up in our food chain. Cosmetic industry is therefore moving towards the use of natural or biodegradable ingredients that can replace standard microplastics such as Nylon-12, PMMA (Polymethylmethacrylate), Polyurethanes etc Prompted by concerns for the environment and human health several countries have already started to ban the use of microplastics into rinse-off products as South Korea, USA, EU (Sweden, France, Italy and many others).

In order to have a common legislation in all Europe, and to really understand the impact of a restriction of microplastics production and use, ECHA has been commissioned by the European Commission for a safety and impact evaluation of microplastics which are intentionally added to fi nish products (not only cosmetics, but also other market segments). ECHA proposal is today following the iter to become an effective ban, it is expected to be in its fi nal version by 2021, regulating both rinse-off and leave-on cosmetics.

Few numbers

RINSEOFF: about 793 tonnes/years
LEAVE ON: about 540 – 1120 tonnes/years
PAINTS & COATINGS: more than 220 tonnes/years
DETERGENTS & CLEANING: about 190 – 200 tonnes/years


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