Is your skin scrub enviro-friendly? More companies agree not to use microbeads

Eleven major companies have now agreed to phase out microbeads from face scrub cosmetic products since Fairfax Media first reported on the campaign by environmental activist Jon Dee more than a year ago.

Mr Dee said that two more major companies, Johnson & Johnson and Metcash, owners of IGA supermarkets, had this week agreed to support the scheme.

In November 2014, Fairfax Media reported how the tiny plastic beads used in scrubs and exfoliants were accumulating in fish in Sydney Harbour. At Middle Harbour, scientists found 60-100 particles of plastic micro debris in 100 millilitres of sediment – among the highest levels in the world.

Australian model Miranda Kerr, whose company makes skincare products without plastic microbeads, spoke out in support of the campaign the following month.

Johnson & Johnson consumer group said this week it was phasing out and would eliminate the use of polyethylene microbeads in personal care products by the end of 2017.

A statement said: "We have stopped developing new products containing polyethylene microbeads and have been conducting environmental safety assessments of other alternatives.


"These assessments are part of our 'informed substitution' approach, which will help ensure that the alternatives we choose are environmentally sound and provide consumers with a great experience."

Support also came from the owners of the IGA supermarkets.

"Metcash has a policy of not including microbeads in our private label products and we are working with the industry as they are phased out of the branded products sold in retail outlets."

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi agreed to back the phase-out earlier this month.

Mr Dee, the founder of environmental advocacy group Do Something, said momentum to phase out plastic microbeads had gathered steam and was on target to eliminate them by July 2018.

"Any company that sells or makes products with plastic microbeads needs to announce a date by when they'll be removed," he said.

"This is especially important for the cheap products that are imported for discount chains, chemists and one dollar shops. By July 2018, we need to ensure that no products with plastic microbeads are being sold in Australia."

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt said the evidence was clear that microbeads and microplastics were incredibly destructive and damaging to the environment.

"That's why last year we reached a historic agreement with all states to phase out microbeads by no later than July 2018," he said.

"This is a deep personal passion. We're also looking at options to reduce the environmental impact of the billions of plastic shopping bags used each year."