De­spite prom­ises

US firms ‘worst ocean pol­luters’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

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.

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