A blog set out to explore, archive & relate plastic pollution happening world-wide, while learning about on-going efforts and solutions to help break free of our addiction to single-use plastics & sharing this awareness with a community of clean water lovers everywhere!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Beat The Micro Bead - A "5 Gyres" Campaign

This is from the 5 Gyres website, one of many campaigns to address plastic pollution.

is a Campaign To Stop The Flow of Plastic Micro-beads Used in Personal Care Products From Drain To Ocean
Did you know that in the past decade, more and more personal care products sold in The United States and around the world contain micro-plastic particle abrasives employed as an exfoliant? We think this is one of the most egregious sources of plastic pollution because this plastic is actually designed to be washed down the drain.

  • Retailers to STOP selling consumer products that contain micro-plastics and micro-beads.
  • Manufactures to STOP using micro-plastics and micro-beads in consumer products worldwide and switch to organic materials that have the same performance attributes, but do not pollute the environment.
  • Consumers to check their products for plastic content and REFUSE to purchase them.
  • Legislators to execute a ban on micro-plastics and micro-beads in consumer products.
  • Together with our Global Partners, Plastic Free Seas (Hong Kong) (Plasticfreeseas.org) and The Plastic Soup Foundation (Netherlands) (plasticsoupfoundation.org) it’s our goal to eliminate this plastic from all consumer products by demanding that companies cease using them in their products.
    Why We Hate Micro-Beads
    Analyzing facial cleanser products, 5 Gyres estimates that a single product can contain over 300,000 of these beads! In samples taken from our expedition to The Great Lakes in 2012 we found these beads, in some cases numbering more than 600,000 per square kilometer! This is unacceptable.
    The issue is that after use, micro-beads travel through the sewage system. Many municipal waste treatment plants will occasionally divert wastewater directly into local rivers during heavy rain, which puts micro-beads directly into the environment. There also exists scientific evidence that micro-plastics are escaping through sewage treatment as well. 5 Gyres is examining sewage effluent to bolster this evidence. In the case of septic tanks micro-beads will eventually escape and be introduced directly to the environment.
    Micro-plastic particles are found in all oceanic gyres, bays, gulfs and seas worldwide. And we know micro-plastics are pervasive in the environment, that they absorb persistent organic pollutants, and are consumed by a variety of marine life, including the fish we harvest for food. We also know that natural alternatives such as apricot shells and cocoa beans can be used as a sustainable alternative to plastic. We are confident that the scientific evidence of micro-plastics and micro-beads in the environment and a targeted, grassroots public awareness campaign will convince industry to end the use of micro-plastics in consumer products worldwide and switch to available alternatives. That, in short is the goal of the campaign.

    1. Products like facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste contain thousands of polyethylene and polypropylene micro-plastic particles, ranging from 50-500 microns, or ½ mm in diameter.
    2. Some products can have between 1-5% micro-beads.
    3. One product, Neutrogena’s “Deep Clean”, contained an estimated 360,000 micro-beads in one tube.
    4. These micro-beads do not embrace the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy at all. They are not recoverable, and are not benign in the environment. They are designed to wash down the drain and into the environment.
    5. Many sewage treatment facilities do not capture synthetic, floating particles the size of micro-beads, and during rainy days some treatment facilities let sewage overflow go right into our waterways.
    6. Micro-plastics are persistent organic compounds that attract other pollutants in the environment, like DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants, and other industrial chemicals.
    7. Micro-plastics, including micro-beads, have been found floating in America’s waters, as evidenced by our findings in The Great Lakes during our 2012 expedition.
    8. Micro-plastic particles have been found in fish, marine mammals and reptiles, and in the digestive and circulatory systems of mussels and worms.
    9. Fish that humans harvest have been known to eat micro-plastic particles.


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