Innovative biodegradable materials could replace microplastics in cosmetics

Our take: The number of countries that have taken the step to ban microbeads remains small...

A company has developed a new range of biodegradable materials designed for use in cosmetics in place of microplastics.

Italian bioplastics manufacturer Novamont launched the products on  October 1 with the aim of fighting the pollution caused by the minute pieces of plastic still present in many cosmetics.

However, the number of countries that have taken the step to ban microbeads remains small, and most of these, like the UK ban, do not cover leave-on cosmetics like make-up, sunscreen and moisturiser, even though these products will eventually also wash off into the water system, or directly into the marine environment.

Responding to a Defra consultation, cosmetics companies said that too many of their leave-on products contained microplastics (in some cases up to 90 percent), such that ‘thousands of products’ would need to be reformulated were the ban to be extended to their entire range.

Potential sources of microplastics in leave-on cosmetics, according to a European Commission report, include powders that contain nanosize microplastic particles as an opacifying agent (giving the product better coverage).

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