Unilever has agreed to phase out micro beads from all its personal care products in a great success story for the marine environment and Seas At Risk member organisations the North Sea Foundation and MCS.

Both organisations, alongside the Plastic Soup Foundation who coordinated the call for action, have been running an intense campaign to get a wide array of cosmetics brands to stop using micro plastic beads in body scrubs and other similar products.

The campaign included a Twitter response on the 20th of December where upon 23 NGOs including Seas At Risk participated in calling on Unilever to end the use of micro plastics. At exactly 5pm Unilever was bombarded by tweets calling for a ban of micro plastics in its beauty products.

Unilever has now agreed to remove micro beads from all its products by 2015. Microbeads are often used as a scrubbing material in face and hand cleansers, and enter the marine environment through inadequate water treatment facilities.

Recently the Dutch government agreed that microplastic should not be used in personal hygene products and have agreed to “engage in talks to see how the use of microplastics could be reduced” at the European level.

Micro plastics are harmful in the marine environment, as they are ingested by marine life and can accumulate in their bodies. Due to the high surface area to volume ratio of micro plastics, they can become magnets for harmful chemicals to attach to, causing a build up of toxins in animals. This potential build up toxins can be passed up the food chain and eventually reach humans.

As Unilever is one of the biggest manufacturers of beauty products in the world, and uses micro beads in at least 23 different products, this is a huge victory for our members, and the battle to end the input of plastics into the oceans.


The North Sea Foundation blog on the Unilever ban

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