A conservation group has warned that exfoliating skin products that have microbeads such as peels, scrubs and washes in them can add plastic to our seas every time they are used.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) claimed that microbeads contribute to the enlargement of the ‘plastic soup’ in the ocean when they go down the drain.
The MCS, along with Flora and Fauna International (FFI), added that consumers should therefore pay attention to certain ingredients contained in beauty products, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.
Sue Kinsey, MCS litter policy officer said, “It’s incredible how many everyday products contain microplastic beads. These find their way through our sewers and into our seas where they are easily eaten by all sorts of marine animals and could ultimately end up back in the human food chain.
“These bits of plastic are so small that our sewage works cannot deal with them, so when used they are essentially washed straight to river and sea.”
The two organisations have launched The Good Scrub Guide and an app called Beat the Micro Bead – both of which encourage consumers to purchase and become more informed about products that are plastic-free.
The groups said there was a chance that manufacturers could change the composition of beauty products like scrubs.
Tanya Cox, FFI’s marine plastics officer said, “Flora and Fauna International is really encouraged to see leading UK retailers and producers of personal care products proactively replacing damaging microplastic exfoliants with biodegradable alternatives and urge all companies to take such positive action to minimise this source of microplastic pollution.”
Consumer goods giant Unilever said in January that it would be phasing out the use of microbeads in its products globally by 2015.