The subject of sustainability in terms of limiting the company’s production impact on the environment is a thorny, highly demanding and profoundly felt issue for companies in the cosmetics industry.
In Italy particularly, we are a leader in third-party cosmetics production, and in the centre-north of the country, there are numerous companies dedicated to the production of cosmetics for Italian, European and non-European brands. Companies must always keep pace not only with marketing trends but above all with regulatory requirements and collective sensitivities
The issue of microplastics in cosmetics is deeply felt and as topical as ever in the last decade. Microplastics are composed of mixtures of polymers and functional additives, which can be formed either accidentally or intentionally manufactured for a specific purpose, as is the case in the cosmetics industry.
Why choose cosmetics without microplastics
In Italy, microplastics were widely used in rinse-off products such as toothpastes and exfoliating scrubs until the ban on the sale of this type of product came into force on 01 January 2020. A rinse-off cosmetic, in fact, having a short dwell time on the skin due to the intrinsic nature of the product, releases huge quantities of microplastics into the drains, and directly into the environment. Given the small size of microplastics, they are easily ingested by aquatic organisms, and difficult to detect in the environment; in other words, the pollution to the environment is certainly significant compared to other types of industrial discharges from rinse-off cosmetics.
What are microplastic-free cosmetics and how to recognise them?
The ECHA (European Chemical Agency) is working on further restrictions with the ultimate goal of completely eliminating the use of microplastics in all types of cosmetics. To date, in fact, microplastics are still permitted in leave-on (non-rinse) cosmetic products, such as make-up products, for which Italy is a world leading third-party cosmetics manufacturer. The most glaring example is glitter, which contains metallic fragments of microplastics for the luminous or matting look given to the skin while applying make-up.
However, today’s consumer is environmentally aware and sensitive and their choice will be geared towards cosmetics that do not contain microplastics.
In the meantime, what can cosmetic companies do?
Firstly, the European Commission’s ban (2014/893/EU) on the use of the Ecolabel in cosmetics containing microplastics is in force, and this is an initial piece of information that consumers can take on board. Nevertheless, companies are moving towards a complete phase-out in anticipation of future restrictions. The most virtuous ones have already adopted this strategy (or have all along embraced it), with companies such as PuroBio, La Saponaria, Domus Olea, often present at trade fairs such as Sana, having completely adopted the approach of producing cosmetics without microplastics. What is new is that even brands in much larger markets are adopting this approach to meet environmental and consumer demands.
Microplastic-free cosmetics: Cosmoderma’s point of view.
Cosmoderma, which has been working as a third party cosmetics company for more than 40 years, produces cosmetics without microplastics for years as its corporate philosophy, adopting an approach aimed not only at the specific selection of raw materials used, but also at the search for biodegradable packaging to reduce environmental impact. The cosmetics in turn become not only ‘eco-friendly’ but also ‘ocean-friendly’, respecting the aquatic species on which the preservation of our planet so largely depends.