All industrial sectors are constantly affected by general and industry-specific legislative changes, dictated by updated scientific knowledge, new expert opinions, as well as public interests at large.
What are microplastics?
The impact of plastics on environmental pollution is an issue of collective interest and towards which there is great sensitivity on the part of the entire world population.
Particular attention has been and still is being paid to microplastics, which have been defined by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) as “particles composed of mixtures of polymers and functional additives, solid and insoluble in water, with a size of less than 5 mm”. Their small size is the critical element for which these microplastics are particularly problematic and have also been addressed in the cosmetics sector. The lack of biodegradability is the aspect of major environmental impact, because it leads to long persistence in the environment, which contributes to pollution.
Why are microplastics in cosmetics?
Microplastics, in particular, polyethylene microgranules (INCI: Polyethylene) have been used in cosmetics for a long time, especially in scrubs, exfoliants, toothpastes, but also in sunscreen products and make-up, thereby making the micro-plastics widely used in both leave-on (non-rinsing) and rinse-off (rinsing) products.
In Italy, microplastics in exfoliating or rinse-off cosmetics have been banned from 01 January 2020, effectively making them still permissible in leave-on products.
What is the function of microplastics in cosmetics in which they are still permitted?
Basically, microplastics can have different functions in cosmetics, from the decorative function typical of make-up glitter to the film-forming and stabilising function. In sunscreen products, microplastics are introduced to enhance the effectiveness of organic sunscreens, and to reduce their final concentration in the formulation. In effect, sunlight is directed towards the filters, increasing their effectiveness.
The impact of microplastics on the environment and action by the Legislature
In contrast to the advantages of using micro-plastics in cosmetics, the environmental impact is significant. As mentioned above, the ban in rinse-off cosmetics was mainly determined by the fact that rinse-off products resulted in a large release of microplastics into the wastewater, which were thus able to easily reach the sea and aquatic species.
Law 205/2017 implementing the ban on microplastics in rinse-offs has contributed greatly to the reduction of this type of pollution in Italy. A push in this direction was also brought about by the severe sanctions that can go as far as a one-year suspension of the cosmetics company’s production activity.
On a European level, a drop of almost 98% in the use of microbeads in exfoliating and rinse-off products has been shown over a 5-year period, demonstrating the willingness of the entire sector to reduce the impact and environmental damage of microplastics, in an increasingly green vision of the cosmetics world.
Plastics in cosmetics? Cosmoderma says no!
Cosmoderma has chosen to phase out micro-plastics in cosmetics since long ago, being in advance compliance with the Italian law and the obligations arising from 01 January 2020.
In addition, the constant and meticulous verification of the documentation of suppliers of raw materials and packaging allows Cosmoderma to provide customers, both in contract and own-brand production, with microplastic-free cosmetics.
In the specific case of sun cosmetics, Cosmoderma offers modern formulations with new-generation filters that do not require the use of microplastics to enhance the effectiveness of the sun.
Where possible, we also try to replace the plastics with biodegradable or fully recyclable materials.
With persistent work and a proactive attitude, everyone can make their own contribution to reducing emissions of polluting materials into the environment, while respecting our planet.