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Microplastics: Lush hot on Unilever’s heels

British brand Lush Cosmetics recently announced its decision to remove all glitter and microplastics from its product range. Marine conservation groups have celebrated this decision, which follows a similar announcement from the Unilever group. Simultaneously, suppliers of alternatives are announcing new launches.

On Wednesday 30th January 2013, Lush Cosmetics pledged to remove all glitter and microplastics from its product range.

According to Hilary Jones, Ethics Director at Lush Cosmetics, it is the outcome of a long process. "Here at Lush we are known for our fizzing baths of fun and decoration. But some of the shine and sparkle in our bath products used to be from micro plastic glitters. For some years now, because of our concerns about the accumulation of plastics in the environment, we have been gradually replacing these plastic glitters with new alternatives as innovations have become available,” she said.

Biodegradable alternatives

Eventually, over 50% of the plastic glitters still used by Lush were concentrated into three long-term best selling products. The challenge was therefore to find suitable replacements that would not upset loyal customers and make them disappointed with products they had long loved. The solution came from new agar based glitters and other biodegradable options recently launched onto the market.

In order to keep fun and excitement in its baths, Lush has replaced glitter with edible lustres, rice paper confetti, popping candy, sugar decorations and even developed its own confetti made in house by dehydrating honeydew melons and mixing with its custom, palm free soap base.

Congratulations from NGOs

The decision of the British brand has been celebrated by several marine conservation organizations.

Microplastics are a growing problem in our seas and oceans. This is a really forward thinking decision by Lush to phase out plastic glitter in their products,” commented Dr Sue Kinsey Senior Pollution Policy Officer with the Marine Conservation Society.

For its part, Andy Cummins, Campaigns Director with Surfers Against Sewage said he was “stoked to see Lush once more promoting the sustainable achievable solutions.

Both organizations are urging other companies to do the same.

Wider alternative offer

In response to the controversy regarding the use of micro-plastics in cosmetic and personal care products, several suppliers have launched biodegradable alternatives or have seized this opportunity to put already existing ranges under the spotlights.

Sunflower beads, KosterKeunen

Sunflower beads, KosterKeunen

For instance, Koster Keunen has recently stressed that the plant based waxes in bead form the company has been making for several years can be a good alternative to plastic beads. These waxes are derived from sunflower wax and rice bran wax and non-hydrogenated with melt points at 75-80°C. They are suitable for a wide range of exfoliation applications including cleansers, masks and scrubs and are available in custom sizes and colours. [1]

Our company has pioneered natural waxes since 1852 and the expansion from beeswax to sunflower wax is only the most recent extension of our varied sustainable product offerings,” said Koster Keunen President John Koster.

For its part, Impact Colors offers two entirely natural and biodegradable solutions derived from rice and bamboo: Rice Exfoliator Vision Beads [2] and Bamboo Exfoliator Vision Beads [3]. “They work at the cellular level to naturally restore skin’s beauty through gently sloughing off skin’s surface cells. These Vision Beads exfoliation spheres gently exfoliate and deeply clean the skin while protecting and moisturizing, unlike other facial scrubs which are abrasive and can cause skin damage,” claims the company.

Impact Colors is constantly looking for the best and most pure natural ingredients,” said Doug Thornley, president.

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