In a follow up to our letter to manufacturers signed by our key partners in The Beat The Bead campaign (Plastic Soup Foundation and Plastic Free Seas) along with over 70 NGOs worldwide, we’re pleased to announce a MAJOR VICTORY today. This morning I spoke with Jay Kosminsky, VP Worldwide Communications and Public Affairs for Johnson & Johnson, and received some very good news. On the heals of launching a full scale grassroots assault on the manufacturers of products that include polyethylene beads employed as an exfoliant in their products, J&J asked me for 72 hours to hold off. I was promised that they’d be able to make a public statement that we’d be happy with. After a great conversation with Jay on friday and cognizant of Johnson & Johnson’s track record for taking the high ground when the environmental impacts of their products come into question, we decided to give them some time. As promised, J & J came back with a bold statement, which their competition should learn from–
Johnson & Johnson will phase out the use of micro-beads.
From Jay Kosiminksy:
“At the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, we’ve already begun the phase out of polyethylene microbeads in our personal care products. We have stopped developing new products containing plastic microbeads, and we are currently conducting an environmental safety assessment of a promising alternative. This assessment is part of our “informed substitution” approach, which helps ensure that the alternatives we choose are safe and environmentally sound, and that they provide consumers with a great experience. Our specific plans will be developed once this assessment is complete.”
(The alternative they’re researching is an organic material, FYI)
In other words, Yes, J&J will stop using microbeads but we don’t have a firm timeline yet for total phase out. Mr. Kosiminsky promised us that this assessment referred to above will not take years but months (tops) and promised to keep 5 Gyres abreast of the timeline as it develops. Given our positive dialogue, we trust this to be the case. Of course, 5 Gyres and our partners will hold them to their pledge.
Big thanks to all of our partners who helped create the landscape to make this happen, especially, Janet Nudelman and Stacy Malkan, from Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, Annie Leonard from Story Of Stuff, Maria Westerbos from Plastic Soup Foundation, and Tracey Read from Plastic Free Seas–all of whom have been instrumental in obtaining this victory.
What an incredible day for the ocean! We’ve come a long in this campaign–Unilever, The Body Shop, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive have all announced commitments to end the use of microbeads. Next up, we’re going full court press on Procter & Gamble who have not made a commitment, though we have been in discussions with them. Please stay tuned in the coming days as we’ll need your help to get P&G to act–we’ll be launching our campaign action page urging P&G to do what’s right. Microbead plastic pollution is a solvable problem. We’re proving that inch by inch.
In August or September, 5 Gyres will be publishing a peer reviewed paper on our expedition to The Great Lakes where we found high concentrations of these beads which lead us to this campaign. That’s what we do–take action based on the scientific data we collect. We’ve got a long way to go in the fight against plastic pollution, but today, together, we’ve made serious progress. CHEERS!
facial scrubbers, great lakes, johnson & johnson, marine debris, marine litter, microbeads, plastic pollution