The integrity of the voluntary efforts made by personal care companies to phase out polluting microbeads is being held in question after the release of the new Greenpeace report this week.

Greenpeace Asian conducted a survey of the world’s 30 largest personal care companies to assess their progress to date stopping the use of microbeads in their products.

Microbeads are a type of microplastic that can be found in our personal care products such as
toothpastes, face washes, scrubs, and shower gels that are added for their exfoliating properties or aesthetic purposes.

The survey scored each company based on the company’s commitment and information transparency; the definition of “microbeads” employed within their commitment; and the degree to which the commitment covers all products in all markets. Each criteria was weighted equally and scored out of 100, to give a final
maximum score out of 400.

The survey revealed that even the highest ranking companies fell short of a standard they deemed acceptable.

For example, Beiersdorf—the 7th largest personal care company in the world which owns brands such as Nivea and Eucerin—was the top ranking company scored only 340/400. The report said that the company “falls short of an acceptable standard because its microbead definition is too narrow; it is limited to just one type of plastic, polyethylene, rather than all types; is silent about its application to all product types; and, is silent about its use of microbeads for all possible functions.”

“These are the world’s biggest cosmetics and personal care companies, and not one of them has an acceptable plan to stop the use of microbeads,” said Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK. “It’s clear there needs to be political action now to ban microbeads outright.”

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The top five ranked companies in the report:
1. Beiersdorf
2. Colgate-Palmolive (Palmolive and Colgate products)
3. L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works, La Senza products).
4. Henkel AG & Co (Persil and Schwarzkopf products)
5. Clarins

Lowest ranking companies in the report (starting with last place):
1. Edgewell (Banana Boat, Wilkinson Sword, Wet Ones products)
2. Revlon
3. Amway
4. Estée Lauder
5. GlaxoSmithKline (Sensodyne, Parodontax, Lamisil, and Physiogel products).

Some of the lowest ranking companies were placed on the list because they did not respond to the survey and had no information available on their website.

The report is available on Greenpeace UK’s website.

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