World July 20, 2016 | 10:05 am

Personal care products may still be polluting oceans despite promises by companies says Greenpeace

Seoul. – A ranking of the world’s 30 largest personal carecompanies, published today by Greenpeace East Asia, shows that big brands arefailing to remove microplastics from their products. The ranking shows thatvoluntary corporate commitments to end use of microbeads that pollute riversand oceans are not working. Governments must legislate to ban microbeads inconsumer products, say campaigners.

“There’s no single bad player, the industry as a whole isfailing to regulate the use of microplastics everyday products. Companies claimto have microbeads under control but this is simply not true. As a result ofweak corporate commitments, trillions of microbeads from personal care productsenter our oceans every day," said Ms. Taehyun Park, Oceans campaigner atGreenpeace East Asia.

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles found in productsfrom toothpaste to body cleansers. Too small to be filtered by most watertreatment systems, the particles end up in rivers, oceans and the food chain, harmingmarine life and polluting the entire ecosystem.

Microbeads are part of a large and growing problem ofplastic waste in oceans. An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic enter theocean every year. Between 2002-2013, the annual global plastic production rosenearly 50%, from 204 million to 299 million tonnes.

In the ranking [5], four companies stand out as doingbetter than their peers in cutting microbeads: Beiersdorf (Germany),Colgate-Palmolive (USA), L Brands (USA) and Henkel (Germany). However, none ofthe companies assessed got a full score sufficient to protect oceans fromplastic pollution. US companies Revlon, Amway and Estee Lauder are the worstperformers.

The ranking also reveals that the world’s five biggestpersonal care companies, Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, Unilever,Colgate-Palmolive and Estee Lauder respectively, got very different scores, andare not living up to the collective responsibility that comes with being worldleading brands.

“Voluntary regulation by the industry is clearly not goodenough. Not only is the industry continuing to pollute the oceans but it alsocreates confusion for consumers who are exposed to a dizzying array ofdifferent promises from personal care companies," said Park.

"A legislative ban on microplastics in consumerproducts is the only way to ensure that these unnecessary pollutants arestopped from entering our oceans. Some countries have already taken action toban microbeads. We urge the rest to follow suit.”

Regulation is in process in a number of countries aroundthe world. The US ban microbeads from production of personal care productscomes into effect from 2017. Governments of Taiwan, UK, Australia and Canadaare working on microbead legislation. EU is also considering a microbead ban.

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