Despite governments around the world calling for a ban on microbeads in personal care products, a new Greenpeace East Asia survey of 30 global brands has found that many products still include microbeads that pollute water systems, poison animals and end up in seafood.

Greenpeace’s “Global Cosmetics and Personal Care Companies’ Microbead Commitment Ranking” report, released on July 20, found loopholes in 30 personal care companies’ pledge to eliminate microbeads from their products.

Among the companies surveyed, major brands like Shiseido, Estee Lauder, Amore-Pacific, Amway, Chanel, and LG have failed to completely eliminate microbeads from their products. These companies only removed microbeads for “certain uses like exfoliating or cleansing,” and from products that rinse off.

An estimated 50 trillion microbeads have polluted oceans. These tiny plastic spheres, often consumed by fish and seabirds, not only affect human health through the consumption of seafood, the extended use of products that contain traces of polyethylene and polypropylene are also harmful to human skin, according to Professor Chiu Pin-ji (邱品齊) of China Medical University Hospital.


Greenpeace Taiwan has called for companies to completely eliminate microbeads from all their products in all markets, use environment-friendly replacements, and revoke the guidelines on the minimum size of microbeads. Greenpeace also hopes this can be achieved in a reasonable timeframe.

Japanese and South Korean companies Shiseido, Amore-Pacific, and LG own brands like Sulwhasoo, Innisfree, Tsubaki and The Face Shop are highly popular in Taiwan, especially in the wake of the “Korean Wave.” According to the Korea International Trade Association, exports of South Korean cosmetics reached US$1.5 billion in August 2015.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White