“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. We are also committed to building, with other international associations, global alignment of the cosmetics industry on this issue,” said Loïc Armand, President of Cosmetics Europe.
The occurrence and persistence of plastic debris in the marine environment and waterways is an issue of increasing public debate. In the US, Illinois, New Jersey and California  have already adopted regulations to ban the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. Several other states are debating similar legislations and Canada has pledge to regulate the use of plastic micro-particules in cosmetics.
In parallel, many companies, from SMEs to multinationals, including individual member companies of Cosmetics Europe such as Unilever or L’Oréal, have publicly stated that they would discontinue those uses in cosmetics that are most likely to end up in the aquatic environment and for which alternatives exist.
Thus, Cosmetics Europe’s recommendation to discontinue the use in wash-off cosmetic products placed on the market as of 2020 of synthetic, solid plastic particles used for exfoliating and cleansing that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment, is certainly no surprise for the trade community.
With this recommendation, Cosmetics Europe aims to engage its membership and to facilitate sector wide best environmental practice.
However, the personal care association considers that “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 a limited source of pollution compared to others.” According to the trade association, “the vast majority of small plastic particles in the seas come from the breakdown of bigger plastic materials.”
Cosmetics Europe therefore says it is committed to working in partnership with the European authorities to gather scientific data to allow a further assessment of the issue. “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.”