January 14, 2016

Microbeads – The Changing Regulatory Environment


The recent change in microbead regulation and scientific opinion showcases the need to stay up to date on regulatory developments and the possible divergence between regions.

In December 2015 the US House of Representatives, approved a new law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. A copy of the Bill can be found here: https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr1321/BILLS-114hr1321enr.pdf

Essentially this law prohibits the manufacturer and introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads. From July 2017 the manufacturing of the beads will be banned, rinse-off cosmetics containing microbeads will be prohibited from manufacture on July 1, 2019.

This law cements an action that was developing across the USA, headed by Beat the Microbead which had already resulted in 7 states including California banning microbeads.

The EU is currently behind the USA on this matter, with no official word from the commission on a planned change in legislation. Guidance has however been provided by Cosmetics Europe to its members recommending that microbeads be removed from wash-off products by 2020.

Cosmetics Europe recommended to its membership to discontinue, in wash-off cosmetic products placed on the market as of 2020: The use of synthetic, solid plastic particles used for exfoliating and cleansing (i.e. microbeads) that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment – Cosmetics Europe, 21 October 2015.

Following the recommendation Cosmetics Europe will be surveying its members to establish the extent of micobead usage. The results of this survey could be used to inform the European Commission on any future legislation.

For multinational companies it is key to stay abreast of regulatory developments across sold-to regions. Regulators often follow market and consumer trends, as well as taking note of other countries regulatory trends to inform their future decisions. Prior knowledge of possible future changes may be key in future development decisions.

Latest Microbiological and Cosmetics News