US firms ‘worst ocean polluters’
BEAUTY with cruelty is how coastal conservationists have described new research that ranks US firms Revlon, Amway and Estee Lauder as the world’s worst when it comes to the use of the tiny plastic exfoliating beads that pollute oceans.
A scorecard released by Greenpeace East Asia this week, which rates 30 of the world’s biggest personal-care and cosmetics firms, found despite promises to do so, firms were failing to remove microplastics from their products.
Microbeads are tiny particles found in toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels, inserted for their exfoliating properties but also for their “aesthetic value”.
Too small to be filtered by most water-treatment systems, the particles end up in rivers, oceans and the food chain, harming marine life and polluting entire ecosystems. “Weak corporate commitments” mean that trillions of microbeads from personal-care products enter oceans every day.
Greenpeace ranked Beiersdorf (Germany), Colgate-Palmolive (US), L Brands (US) and Henkel (Germany) as the better performers but said not even any of those got a full score “sufficient to protect oceans from plastic pollution”.
Although Revlon, Estee Lauder and Amway scored the
to do so, their products
lowest, there is “no single bad player”, said Greenpeace.
“The industry as a whole is failing to regulate the use of microplastics in everyday products. Companies claim to have microbeads under control but this is simply not true.”
Microbeads are part of a large and growing problem of plastic waste in oceans, according to Greenpeace, which noted that “an estimated eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year”.
Between 2002 and 2013, annual global plastic production rose nearly 50 percent.
Last year, research by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, published by the Marine Pollution Bulletin, revealed more than two- thirds of mullet caught in a sample survey in Durban harbour contained plastic particles.