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Environment

"Disposing of microplastics has become a global problem," says BASF’s Vinicius Bim

The department of personal care products at the multinational chemical company developed biodegradable wax spheres to replace the plastic beads used in exfoliant products.

The pollution generated by plastic is an environmental problem that is on the rise all over the world. Almost imperceptible to humans, microplastics are also a concern. When microplastic comes in one to five millimetre sized microbeads, it can pollute the air, the ocean and even the water we drink.

"Disposing of microplastics has become a global problem. It began with the packaging and tire industries, but some cosmetics ingredients have already been identified as being non-biodegradable", says Vinicius Bim, innovation specialist in the Personal Care department at BASF South America.

Sectorial commitment

According to the Brazilian Association of Personal Hygiene, Perfumery and Cosmetics (ABIHPEC), microbeads in the cosmetics industry - which are primarily used in exfoliant products - represent 0.1% to 1.5% of all the microplastic waste in the world.

Vinicius Bim, innovation specialist in the Personal Care department at BASF (...)

Vinicius Bim, innovation specialist in the Personal Care department at BASF South America

In Brazil - unlike in the US, Canada and New Zealand - there is no federal law prohibiting the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics products. However, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, a law banning the material has just come into effect. "The cosmetics industry has made a commitment to ban the beads used in Brazil. Trying to find alternatives to these ingredients will be the focus of innovation departments for the next few years", says Bim.

Cegesoft Peel

BASF’s special care department released one of these innovations recently. The German multinational chemical specialties company introduced to the market Cegesoft Peel. The product is made with wax beads, which are uniform and biodegradable, providing soft exfoliation without scratching the customer’s skin.

According to Bim, there are other natural alternatives for exfoliants available in the market, such as silica, cellulose and powdered seeds. "Along with the necessity of an increased microbiological care (to seeds in particular), these ingredients have irregular surfaces due to their morphology", he says.

He says Brazilian consumers are increasingly more knowledgeable about beauty products and are more concerned about the environment. "Most people are still unaware of specific problems, such as microbeads used in cosmetics. However, the recent example of banning plastic straws all over the country shows how fast people are becoming aware and concerned".

Euperlan OP White

Along with Cegesoft Peel, BASF Care Creations introduced another biodegradable product for cosmetics manufacturers: Euperlan OP White, an opacifier dispersion to replace the synthetic ingredient that gives products such as shampoos, liquid soaps and shower gels their white and creamy attributes.

Bim says he is unaware of any technology similar to the one used in this product, which is wax-based. "The solutions that are currently available in the market are polymer dispersions made with polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene, which are less soluble".

According to BASF, both solutions represent the company’s commitment to developing cosmetics ingredients that are natural, organic and vegan, as well as supplying cosmetics manufacturers with components that are increasingly less harmful to the environment.

Renata Martins

Portfolio

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