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On the occasion of World Oceans Day, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a publication recommending an eventual phase-out and ban of the use of microplastics in personal care products and cosmetics (PCCP).

Plastics in Cosmetics8 June 2015: On the occasion of World Oceans Day, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a publication recommending an eventual phase-out and ban of the use of microplastics in personal care products and cosmetics (PCCP).

The publication, titled ‘Plastics in Cosmetics: Are We Polluting the Environment Through Our Personal Care?’, compiles knowledge on the links between cosmetics and plastic pollution in the oceans. Plastics do not degrade and cannot be recycled; instead, they fragment into smaller pieces and fragments, with many microplastics flowing from bathroom drains to sewer systems and eventually ending up in the world’s oceans. For instance, the European Union (EU) countries, Norway and Switzerland used 4360 tonnes of microplastic beads in 2012, according to the report.

The report addresses plastics as potential environmental pollutants and describes the potential direct and indirect human health effects of plastics. It highlights the need for additional research to better understand the implications of nano and micro-sized plastics in PCCPs on human and marine ecosystem health, including on the chemical transfer and ingestion of plastics through the food chain.

The report includes recommendations for consumers, producers, policymakers and researchers. It recommends consumers make conscious decisions to not purchase products containing microbeads and that industry voluntarily phase out microplastics. For instance, the report suggests taking into consideration the potential impact of product ingredients on the natural environment into account during the design phase of packaging as one way to eliminate microplastics. It further recommends a precautionary approach towards microplastic management, with the eventual aim of phasing out and banning PCCPs.

UNEP’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), hosted by the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) prepared the publication. [UNEP Press Release] [GPA Press Release] [Publication: Plastics in Cosmetics: Are We Polluting the Environment Through Our Personal Care?] [UNEP Knowledge Repository][Natural Resources Policy & Practice story about World Oceans Day 2015]


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