The ugly truth about how glitter impacts the environment

According to marine experts, eight million tonnes of glitter end up in the ocean everyday - and the beauty industry’s obsession with sparkles is to blame

Rachael Z. Miller is Co-founder and Executive Director of marine conservation charity Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean. The US-based NGO has worked with research institutions across the globe to raise awareness about microplastics and what impact they are having.

Here she talks to Cosmetics Business about how glitter is wrecking the environment and how to solve the problem.

Rachael Z. Miller

"Your customers and the ocean can sparkle, without plastic!

Imagine dropping a salt shaker on the floor and then having to clean it up one individual salt crystal at a time.

Now imagine having to do the same after spilling it into the ocean, but instead of salt, which dissolves, the pieces are microplastic. The same size, but never dissolves.

Microplastics are a tough nut to crack on the cleanup side of marine debris, so they are best addressed through prevention and the cosmetics industry has a role to play in protecting our oceans from microplastics.

Microplastic is less than 5mm with two sub-categories: primary and secondary.

Primary microplastics are items manufactured to be under 5mm, including the now-banned-in-many-countries microbeads, plastic glitter, resin pellets (raw material for manufacturing), plastic ball bearings, etc.

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