Last summer, members of the 5 Gyres Institute, an environmental organization designed to free the planet of plastic pollution found that plastic micro-beads from P&G brand Johnson & Johnson were found in large quantities in The Great Lakes.
Many Johnson & Johnson facial and body washes/scrubs contain these micro-beads as a way for consumers to slough off dead skin cells. Unfortunately being that these beads are so small they're not being trapped properly in sewage drainage because they're too tiny to be trapped and instead are being washed into three of The Great Lakes (Lake Superior and Lake Michigan will be tested next summer). After inspection of the large quantities of micro-beads found, 5 Gyres determined that according to size, color, texture and shape, the culprit behind these beads was Johnson & Johnson.
After confronting Johnson & Johnson with their claims, Johnson & Johnson informed 5 Gyres that they pledged to begin the removal of of the plastic micro-beads from their products and phase them out completely by 2017. According to a spokesperson from Johnson & Johnson the company has already begun the phase out of polyethylene micro-beads in their existing products and are currently developing an environmentally friendly alternative for future products. (Source: Reuters)
5 Gyres used a technique called a "manta trawl," a net system resembling a manta ray, which is towed behind the boat to collect the micro-beads which were later inspected and confirmed to be from Johnson & Johnson. Micro-plastic is easily confused with natural food found in lakes and therefore ingested by fish and then ingested by humans. Currently there is no known effect of the cause of ingesting micro-beads but either way it's not environmentally safe.
This move by Johnson & Johnson is the latest in the line of phase outs that includes phasing out other potentially harmful chemicals that include formaldehyde from its adult line by 2015 that was preceded by their pledge last year to phase out the same chemicals from its baby line by the end of 2013.
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