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CE survey FAQ

All you might want to know about the CE survey on plastic microbeads used in wash-off products - FAQs

The survey conducted by Cosmetics Europe on the use of plastic microbeads for exfoliating and cleansing purposes in wash-off cosmetic and personal care products whose results were released earlier this year, showed a significant 82% reduction in use of plastic microbeads between 2012 and 2015. The survey followed the Cosmetics Europe’s recommendation to their membership to discontinue, in wash-off cosmetic and personal care products placed on the market as of 2020: the use of synthetic, solid plastic particles used for exfoliating and cleansing (i.e. microbeads) that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment.

Q: Why did Cosmetics Europe conduct the survey?
A: To assess the effectiveness of industry voluntary actions including the Cosmetics Europe recommendation. 

The rapid and substantial 82% reduction demonstrates the effectiveness of the cosmetic and personal care industry’s voluntary action. It shows the significant progress made towards our objective of zero plastic microbeads being used for exfoliating and cleansing purposes in wash-off cosmetic products by 2020.
Q: Who was surveyed?
A: All the members of Cosmetics Europe were invited to complete the survey.

The Cosmetics Europe membership comprises of 22 companies (16 active and six supporting members) and 28 national member associations1  (and five supporting associations) including SMEs plus four correspondent members2.

Depending on product, Cosmetics Europe survey covers between 70% and 80%of the European Union (EU28) market plus Norway and Switzerland.
Q: How representative are the results of the survey?
A: The survey covered the large majority of our relevant corporate membership plus a sample of SME national association members. The information provided can be therefore assumed to be strongly indicative of the levels of overall use of plastic microbeads in wash-off products.
Q: When was the survey conducted and by whom?
A: The survey was conducted in 2016 and covers the annual figures on the use in the year 2015. The result of 82% shows the reduction between 20124  and 2015.

The survey was conducted by Cosmetics Europe.
Q: What was the geographical scope of the survey?
A: The survey covered the European Union, Norway and Switzerland.

Cosmetics Europe active and supporting corporate members contributed with their corresponding European data, whereas national associations provided aggregated figures for their respective national association members. To avoid duplication, where a CE corporate member was also a member of a national association, their corresponding data was not included in the aggregated figures provided by a given national association.
Q: What was the information requested in the survey?
A: For the purposes of the survey, participants were asked to provide information on plastic microbeads in wash-off products.

Members were requested to provide the INCI Name of the materials used, the particle size, particle shape for the year of 2015.
Q: Which categories of products were covered by the survey?
A: The survey covered the wash-off products. These included shampoos, hair conditioners, shower gels, soap bars, toothpastes, shaving foams, scrub and exfoliating products.
Q: Where can specific contributions by survey participants be found?
A: The survey includes commercially sensitive information and therefore only the aggregated data mentioned above can be made publicly available.
Q: Will the survey be repeated?
A: Cosmetics Europe will continue to annually monitor and report the findings on the effectiveness of the European industry’s voluntary action, until the final objective of removing all plastic microbeads used for exfoliating and cleansing purposes in wash off cosmetic products ahead by 2020 has been achieved.
1ZDK/CCE association from Croatia joined Cosmetics Europe only in 2017 when the survey had already been conducted.  
2Figures from September 2017  
3Based on EUROMONITOR database of market share per company.
4Gouin et al, 2015, “Use of Micro-Plastic Beads in Cosmetic Products in Europe and Their Estimated Emission to the North Sea Environment” found that in 2012 4360 tons were used.

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