State Secretary Mansveld tackles microplastics in cosmetics and personal care products

There should be a European-wide ban on microplastics in cosmetics products and products like bath foam and toothpaste. This is what State Secretary Mansveld (Infrastructure & the Environment) stated in a letter on waste management to the House of Representatives. State Secretary Mansveld would also like consumers to be informed about these small, non-biodegradable plastic particles in cosmetics and personal care products. Moreover, she would like to see the cosmetics sector start looking for alternatives to the use of microplastics. Ms Mansveld wants to use these measures to tackle this source of environmental pollution.

State Secretary Mansveld and Minister Schippers (VWS: Health, Welfare & Sport) will argue for a European ban on microplastics in personal care products to ensure that these particles no longer penetrate into surface water via wastewater. Ms Mansveld: “A large proportion of products of this type on the Dutch market are produced by foreign manufacturers. This makes a European ban the most effective measure. I do not, however, want to wait for this. I want to do something for Dutch consumers in the mean time. They should know if a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of bath foam contains microplastics.” In consultation with the Ministry of VWS and civil society partners, State Secretary Mansveld will examine how consumers can be informed about the presence of microplastics in cosmetics and personal care products.

Ms Mansveld: “I would also like to offer consumers a sustainable option by asking the cosmetics sector to find alternatives to microplastics. The sector is already heading in the right direction.” Currently, a large proportion of Dutch cosmetics companies are re-evaluating the use of microplastics in their products to see if they can be replaced by other materials. The sector expects that in eighteen months’ time 80% of its members will have replaced microplastics with other materials.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that can be used in products like skin scrub, toothpaste and bath products. These bits of plastic penetrate surface water and the sea via wastewater, and can then absorb toxins. Fish and other marine life can eat the toxic particles and thus enter the food chain. Microplastics are non-biodegradable and therefore constitute a pollutant that is one of the sources of plastic soup. Tackling the problem of microplastics is one of the main aims of the cabinet’s maritime strategy for dealing with the problem of plastic soup in the North Sea.