Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working on tackling marine microplastic pollution sources since 2012, taking an evidence-based and research-driven approach. Microplastics are plastic pieces up to 5 mm in size which are a problem in the ocean because they can harm the wide range of marine animals that mistake them for food.
The first source of microplastic pollution that FFI focused on was the use of microplastic ingredients in products such as cosmetics and toiletries that go down the drain. These microplastic ingredients, often referred to as plastic microbeads, are too small to be effectively filtered during wastewater treatment and are known to enter rivers, lakes and oceans after getting washed down the drain.
FFI has been working constructively on preventing the unsustainable use of such microplastic ingredients with many UK and international cosmetic brands, manufacturers, retailers and industry trade bodies, with marine litter and ecotoxicology scientists and experts, with other NGOs working in the field of plastic pollution, and also with policymakers looking into the problem.
Together with all of our research on products and ingredients relevant to microplastic pollution, this work has helped us develop a set of principles, recommendations and guidelines on improving corporate ingredient policies and regulatory measures to effectively prevent microplastic pollution from consumer and industrial products.
In January 2017, FFI summarised and published this guidance below in order to support businesses designing voluntary commitments related to microplastic ingredient use as well as policymakers seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of products containing such ingredients.