Last week Europe moved to ban microplastics from cosmetics, detergents, paints and other products.
But it will take years before the new rules reach products and shops. Knowing that we pump up to 300,000 tonnes of microplastic into European waters each year, you may well be looking for a quicker exit.
Thankfully, the EU banned microplastic from rinse-off cosmetics way back in 2014, but only products with the EU Ecolabel. The ban is already in force and covers body and face scrubs, toothpaste, children’s bubble bath soaps, toilet soaps, shower gels, shampoo, conditioners and shaving foams. Harmful substances like parabens and formaldehyde are also restricted. Ecolabel detergents and cleaning products are also microplastic free.
Consumer and environmental NGOs both help shape Ecolabel rules, which must meet environmental standards throughout their lifecycle, from material extraction to production, distribution to disposal. They are not perfect, but are a great way for people to cut through greenwash and use positive purchasing power. The rules are regularly made more strict, most recently for paper products.
Consumer confidence is high and Ecolabel products are surging. There are now a third more products and services sporting an EU Ecolabel in the year to September 2018, compared to the year before. Growth has nearly doubled since 2016, up by 85%.
There are 26 product groups covering cleaning products and services, home and garden products, clothing paper and even tourism services. Companies have to win independent accreditation.