Microplastics - Polymers are not Plastics

“Microplastics”: Polymers are not Plastics

Lubrizol is committed to reducing marine litter, consistent with UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water. Lubrizol makes polymer ingredients that are used as rheology modifiers, efficient thickeners and binders in gels, creams and lotions to improve the performance of personal care products. Recently, well-publicized environmental concerns about solid plastic microbeads in personal care products have been used to blur the important differences between using solid microbeads and using polymers in personal care products. Lubrizol has never made microbeads.  

While some have sought to recast Lubrizol’s polymers as a next generation follow-on to the microbeads environmental threat, calling polymers “microplastics” ignores fundamental compositional differences. Unlike solid plastic microbeads, Lubrizol’s polymers are:

  • liquid or gel in form (microbeads are solid)
  • not formed with heat processing (microbeads are subject to a process of heating, melting, forming, cooling and solidification)
  • hygroscopic and swellable in water (microbeads are insoluble, nonswellable and maintain their solid form in water)

In addition, data shows that Lubrizol's polymers are captured efficiently in waste water treatment, do not travel with effluent water, are not bio accumulative and not toxic. Lubrizol is working actively with stakeholders to establish scientifically robust basis to demonstrate that polymers in personal care products do not pose a threat to the environment and to alleviate the confusion arising from loose and unclear definitions of microplastics. 

For more information about how Lubrizol’s polymers are different from “microplastics”, view Lubrizol's letter to our customers.

Life Below Water