For both big beauty and smaller independent brands alike, the message the EU is sending is clear: Plastic glitter is toxic, harmful and you are the problem. On October 17th, a new ban on all loose microplastic glitter came into effect in the EU, continuing the momentum the European Commision has built recently, cracking down on plastic and microplastics across the board. For now, only the sale of loose plastic glitter as well as products where traditional glitter is prone to come off easily are being targeted, but the intention is for all use of plastic-based glitter in cosmetic products to be banned in the near future. The plan is for no cosmetic or wellness products to include plastic-based glitter by 2035. It’s an incredible precedent-setting moment for climate and health activists – as well as legislators – across the globe, that comes off a wave of laws and restrictions already put in place by the EU, such as the ban on a large number of single-use plastics, among them cutlery, cotton ear buds, to-go containers, straws and more wasteful everyday products.
The “Glitter ban” reportedly caused the sale of loose plastic glitter to have a temporary rise in Europe over the summer, with many influencers and beauty fans posting about their hoarding of favorite traditional glitter (i.e. toxic, polluting, fossil-fuel based) products – while completely missing the point of the ban. The EU is not trying to “take away the last sparks of glamour” as one German influencer cried – this is legislative power putting pressure on manufacturers, forcing them to move away from business as usual. Forcing beauty companies to instead focus on the alternatives that are already available is a significant shift in a dialogue that – frustratingly – most often leaves the responsibility in the hands of the consumers. It’s a wake up call, a major part in the shift to offer valuable options to consumers that are not detrimental to our health and our planet. As mentioned at the top, the ban touches on other areas outside of the beauty spectrum as well. For instance, the sale ban also includes objects that use plastic glitter for decoration from which the glitter detaches, such as christmas decorations and party hats (the horror!) ensuring the upcoming holiday season in Europe is going to look significantly less shiny. What will the office Holiday get-together look like without sprinkle clouds of toxic glitter in the air?
Soon after the ban was announced, many climate activists were quick to point out that while the action is commendable, it is done on too small of a scale and the timeline is too long. Many beauty and self care products won’t be affected until 2031. On this date, all beauty products containing microplastics of any sorts must bear a label indicating that they contain them. The final ban on microplastic goes into effect in 2035, more than a decade into the future. On October 17th however, the EU also announced further plans to cut down on micropellets in products across the board. Plastic pellets are melted down and used in everything from plastic bottles, cosmetics containers and remote controls, and not only break down over time and become polluting microplastics, but are seeping into the environment, products and our bodies from the very beginning of the supply chain. Overall, the EU’s “Green Deal” aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050, and these steps on the way to achieve that do look promising, if the timeline is still concerningly long.
Conventional plastic glitter can still be sold in the EU for the time being, as beauty brands are allowed to keep selling what they have in stock. And while the US did ban the use of microbeads used in rinse-off cosmetics such as face washes and scrubs, there are currently no plans to ban microplastics in the US that have major momentum behind them. Hopefully this will change in the very near future, now that there is a solid example of a successful ban across the pond? At Submission Beauty, we are full of hope and are proud to be leading the fight against plastic beauty.
“At Submission, we’re so excited that an enormous legislation of this kind has come to life, and it means the world to me that the EU has taken such a strong stance against the players of “Big Beauty”. A precedent has been set, and I sincerely hope this means the rest of the world will follow their lead and continue to ban plastics from our bodies” – Zenia Jaeger, founder of Submission Beauty