Unilever, i.e. the third-largest consumer goods company in the world, recently made it public news that, in order to green up its working agenda, it has decided to make sure that the facial scrubs and the exfoliators it manufactures and sells are completely microplastics-free.The company explains that its decision stems from the fact that, as several studies have shown, microplastics (a.k.a. plastic microbeads that take a long time to degrade after making their way into various natural ecosystems) impact heavily on the environment.
This is because each time an individual uses a personal care product containing microplastics, these enter the waste stream and more often than not end up polluting marine ecosystems.
From this moment on, it is only a matter of time until they travel up the marine food chain and turn into a potential threat to public health, Jubbling explains.
The official statement on Unilever's website reads as follows: “The issue of plastics particles in the ocean is an important issue and we have reviewed the use of micro beads in our portfolio (both current products and those in the pipeline).”
Furthermore, “We have decided to phase out the use of plastic micro beads as a ‘scrub’ material in all of our personal care products. We expect to complete this phase out globally by 2015.”
Unilever's phasing out microbeads from its personal care products does not mean that facial scrubs, exfoliators and the like will lose their efficiency in terms of removing dead skin cells.
Quite the contrary: these microplastics can successfully be replaced by natural alternatives such as grains, salt and even sand.
As was to be expected, animal rights activists were quick in labeling this initiative as a praiseworthy one.
It is their hope that other companies that manufacture and sell such products will soon agree to follow in Unilever's footsteps and improve on their ecological footprint.