Microbeads in cosmetics

Some countries have banned the use of microbeads in cosmetics.

Policy in practice

› Regions: Europe, Americas, Oceania

› Countries: Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Italy, Korea, Republic of, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States

› Tags: Plastic, Microplastic, Regulation

Bans and phase-outs on specific chemicals or products have been introduced in several OECD countries, as well as regulatory measures applying to specific uses (e.g. cosmetics). These are generally the result of growing concerns and evidence over health and/or environmental impacts, and aim at stimulating technological and behavioural changes. For example, microbeads are small pieces of plastics (less than 5mm in diameter) often used in cosmetics. The increasing presence of these tiny plastics particles in the ocean, harming marine life and ecosystems, has given rise to national regulations.



The Netherlands were the first country to introduce a ban on microbeads in cosmetic products in 2014. Several countries, including Australia, Canada, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and the US have followed suit.





Source report

Watkins, E., et al. (2019), "Policy approaches to incentivise sustainable plastic design", OECD Environment Working Papers, No. 149, OECD Publishing, Paris

Key policy message

A suite of policy tools can be targeted towards reducing the use and consumption of harmful substances in consumer goods.