Let's take the plastic out


Hidden microplastics – you can’t see them but you need to know about them.
So we’re revealing them here.

Discover where they are and what they do.
Then spread the message.

Together, let’s take the plastic out. #takeplasticout



They’re manufactured and added as ingredients to products. Around 50,000 tonnes of ‘intentionally added microplastics’ are used every year in Europe alone1.

These microplastics are created in the lab, then intentionally added to products. They’re different from the ones that break down in the environment from larger sources such as plastic bags.

It’s time to put them under the microscope.



They’re also in fertilisers, seeds, paints and coatings.



Beauty Products





Brands put microplastics in cosmetics to give you luxurious textures and specific finishes, or provide a function like exfoliation.

But look at the size of the problem we now face.

  • Every year in Europe, 3,700 tonnes of intentionally added microplastics in wash-off and leave-on cosmetics are released into the environment.2
  • That’s contributed to the release of 144,300 tonnes of microplastics over Kim Kardashian’s lifetime.3
  • Researchers found up to 10 trillion plastic particles in one bottle of sunscreen alone.4


Fabric Softener & Shampoos





Manufacturers add microplastics into fabric softeners, detergents and shampoos in the form of microcapsules. These tiny spheres protect and release fragrance for that ‘just-washed’ fresh scent.

But look at the cycle we need to break.

  • 60% of fabric softeners contain microplastics.5
  • Every year the UK washes 16.5 tonnes of intentionally added microplastics down the drain just by washing our clothes. That’s the weight equivalent of 1.8 million plastic water bottles. Or 14.3 million 2x2 lego bricks.6
  • The average family puts 55 million microcapsules a week in their laundry cycle. Assuming 25% go down the drain (a conservative estimate) that means they wash nearly 14 million plastic microcapsules into the environment per week.7


Food & Drink





Microplastics have been found in our food and drink. Scientists don’t yet know conclusively what effect this has on human health.

It’s enough to make you lose your appetite.

  • 80% of tap water contains microplastic.8
  • 90% of corn is grown from seeds coated in microplastic.9
  • Microplastics have been discovered in fruits and vegetables.10
  • The average person consumes 250 grams of plastic each year. If you’re finding that hard to visualize, it’s a heaped dinner plate full.11


The Planet





Microplastic ingredients can’t be recycled and take decades to degrade. So they’re accumulating in large volumes in soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.

We need a solution that doesn’t cost the Earth.

  • 42,000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment every year in Europe alone. That’s the equivalent of 10 billion plastic bottles.12
  • 136,000 tons of microplastic could be blown on shore by sea spray every year.13
  • 1,000 metric tons of microplastic particles fall as ‘plastic rain’ into 11 protected areas in the western US each year. That’s the equivalent of over 120 million plastic water bottles.14

What can you do?


    • Please share these images on social media to help spread the message.
    • To find out whether your beauty products contain microplastic ingredients, use the Beat the Microbead app.
    • Write to your favourite brands to encourage them to take the plastic out.
    • Share interesting data with us and we’ll add the best to this campaign.