TerraVerdae BioWorks, an industrial biotechnology company developing advanced bioplastics and environmentally sustainable biomaterials, today announced that it is releasing a line of biodegradable, natural microspheres for use in personal care and cosmetic products, as a direct replacement for synthetic, non-degradable plastic microbeads that are currently the subject of restrictive legislation throughout the world.
“Our biodegradable, environmentally safe microspheres have all the performance characteristics that cosmetic manufacturers demand of current polyethylene plastic products, but they rapidly and safely break down in the marine environment, leaving behind no harmful solids.”
Cosmetic manufacturers have been using synthetic plastic microbeads as abrasives in facial and body scrubs, as well as in other personal care products, since the 1990s. Their small size – approximately 0.5 microns – allows them to pass through the filtration systems of typical water treatment plants and flow into the Great Lakes and other freshwater bodies. There, the beads can attract toxic pollutants and can be consumed by fish, birds and other wildlife. A single container of a personal hygiene product can contain 300,000 or more microbeads, and scientists have found concentrations as high as 1.1 million microbeads per square kilometer in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater.
“The scale of pollution found recently in the Great Lakes as a result of plastic microbeads used in personal care products has been dramatic and concerning,” said William Bardosh, CEO and founder of TerraVerdae BioWorks. “Our biodegradable, environmentally safe microspheres have all the performance characteristics that cosmetic manufacturers demand of current polyethylene plastic products, but they rapidly and safely break down in the marine environment, leaving behind no harmful solids.”
Recently, the Microbeads Free Waters Act of 2015 was filed in the US Senate and the House of Representatives to phase out the manufacturing and sale of microbeads found in household products. If passed, the legislation would amend the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to prohibit, starting Jan. 1, 2018, the distribution of a cosmetic that contains synthetic plastic microbeads. Likewise, this past March, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that microbeads should be immediately added to the list of substances managed by the government under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
A number of major companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, L’Oreal, and Colgate-Palmolive, have already announced commitments to end the use of polyethylene microbeads in favor of environmentally sustainable alternatives.
TerraVerdae’s natural microspheres are a PHA-based biomaterial produced using a non-GMO, non-toxic, plant-associated process. Unlike other biomaterials that require a compost environment to degrade, TerraVerdae’s microspheres are intrinsically biodegradable and meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) industry standards for biodegradation in a marine environment. TerraVerdae can produce microspheres in a range of sizes, in both smooth and coarse finishes, that feature high optical clarity and the mechanical characteristics to meet all requirements for cosmetic formulations.
“With our bioprocess technology, we can design a responsible solution for cosmetic and personal care products that is environmentally sustainable and that has the exfoliation performance that consumers seek,” said Bardosh.
About TerraVerdae BioWorks
TerraVerdae BioWorks develops biodegradable bioplastics, biobased chemicals, and bioactives from environmentally sustainable, single carbon (C1) feedstocks. TerraVerdae’s industrial biorefinery platform combines systems biology, bioprocess engineering, and polymer chemistry capabilities to produce high-value, performance biomaterials. These products have applications in the agriculture/horticulture, personal care, dietary supplement, and associated markets. TerraVerdae’s synthetic biology platform and proprietary genetic tools have developed biobased products and challenging proteins for companies and institutes worldwide.
TerraVerdae BioWorks is headquartered in Canada with operations in the US and the UK.
William Bardosh, CEO
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
House of Commons (Canada)
Johnson & Johnson GmbH
Procter & Gamble
US House of Representatives
US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry