Do Androids Dream of… Plastic Fish?

The latest Codecheck/BUND investigation reveals: microplastics in cosmetics are not just not going anywhere – the plastic percentage in skincare has increased since 2014.

“Oh come on Nath!
We just discussed microplastics found in our food the other day!”
Well, my friend, unfortunately, good news are hard to find.

This post’s title is not just a pun aiming at the post-apocalyptic reality in the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel (or the 1982 Blade Runner movie) – just read until the end to see the picture of the nightmarish near future reality we all are facing.

Codecheck & BUND
Microplastics Investigation

Together with the German environmental organisation BUND (friends of the Earth Germany), Codecheck – the largest ingredient database in DACH countries – have revealed the German skincare industry’s inability of removing microplastics from cosmetic products despite commitments to voluntarily do so. (We’re talking conventional skincare of course, since petroleum-based ingredients can’t be used in certified organic skincare anyway.)
Earlier this year, a marine litter study stated that:

“[W]hilst cosmetic microplastics are far from the largest microplastic source, they are still significant and contribute up to 4.1% (much more that other recent industry estimates)—this is estimated to be between 2,461 and 8,627 tonnes entering the marine environment from Europe every year.

It is recognised that the cosmetics industry is working to reduce this amount, and through engagement with the industry, this report has concluded that a reduction of over 4,000 tonnes can be achieved by 2020.” 1)

But is the the cosmetics industry working on it though?
Is this concluded reduction even realistic?

Now, the Codecheck and BUND teams have compared 102,790 personal care products from 19 product groups; 44,386 products in 2014 with over 58,404 in 2016.

The results reveal that for some product groups like lipsticks, and body scrubs, and colour make-up, the percentage of plastic has actually increased between 2014 and 2016.
Here are more sad highlights from the investigation:codecheck-bund

The freshly published results were shared by some of the most relevant German TV channels.
But why is it so important?

A European ban on microbeads (PE), like in the USA, is currently being discussed.
The investigation by Codecheck and BUND proves that such a ban is only part of the solution, since microplastics used by the cosmetics industry come in various forms. A European ban is urgent indeed – but it’s not enough to ban only PE.

If you speak German, read the investigation paper here (link opens a PDF document in a new tab).
1) Study to support the development of measures to combat a range of marine litter sources, Report for European Commission DG Environment, dated January 2016.

And here’s once again the full list of buggers to avoid:
Polyethylen (PE)
Polypropylen (PP)
Polyethylenterephthalat (PET)
Polyurethan (PUR)
Acrylates Copolymer (AC)
Acrylate Crosspolymer (ACS)
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
Polyacrylate (PA)
Polystyrene (PS)
Polyquaternium (P)

The Codecheck app will also do the job for you, but if you’re not living in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, get this little cutie onto your smartphone or print it out and stick in your pocket:

Yes, we all grab an occasional “bad” product, it just happens in this loud, noisy world. But please let’s not ignore this. Because if nothing happens, by 2050, the worldwide fish population are likely to share the oceans with three times as much plastic litter.

2 Comments on “Do Androids Dream of… Plastic Fish?

  1. I can not thank you enough for bringing the Codecheck App into my life. There is not many out there I trust, so usually I am running around with my app and you know what. Not sure if I already told you the story about a lotion and soap for babies that I was buying because, hey we talk about baby products. And why should anyone include something that is bad for the skin, health and environment into a product families use for their children. Anyway, I switched both products now to organic products…

    • Wow, now that’s a cool success story! 👏🏼💚✨ As for the Q “why should anyone…” – welcome to my world! 🙄