Microplastics and microbeads

What are microbeads and how do they effect the environment? Find out more in our recent article, including what you can do to help with the problem.

If you have a tip on how to avoid microbeads, please share it in the comments below.


I despise microbeads and wonder why there hasn’t been taken up internationally to ban them (inc. by the Australian government).

We are also concerned about the microfibres in the environment, namely those synthetic plastic fibres resulting from the washing of synthetic clothes. We avoid purchasing any synthetic clothing as these microfibres are really no different when they enter the environment (most go straight through the waste water treatment plants - and could only be used if expensive osmosis was used to treat final water from a WWTP). They also will be around for many years entering the food chain and every corner of our earth.

Here are some papers about microfibre pollution and an ABC news article.


Some interesting bits, best considered with the dates as context. There is a lot of regurgitation so I tried to use what appear to be the most credible sources.



I too do not like microplastics, nor microbeads, and don’t use soaps that contain them. I don’t like the microbeads as sprayed around on the roads to make the white lines more visible either! I’m not sure if they are plastic or glass, but when the stuff is blowing around it inevitably gets inhaled.

For those interested, Boomerang Alliance is sponsoring an event here:

Australia’s first Conference focused on reducing Marine Plastic Pollution in the Asia-Pacific region. Hosted by the Boomerang Alliance, the conference will take place at Darling Harbour in Sydney from October 30th to November 1st 2017.


Gordon, that’s a good question - I’ve never suspected that reflective paint beads were anything but glass. I sincerely hope that none of them are plastic. :sweat:

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A relevant report.


Looks like glitter falls within the definition, too.


I promise I did not stage this, but plastics endanger all sorts of animal life, real and otherwise.

If it gets a static object imagine how many inquisitive birds and animals get in strife.


I hate glitter. Our little one brings things home from kindy/playgroup with glitter ‘stuck’ on it and we find little sparkles everywhere from on washed clothing, carpet/timber floors, in bed linen etc. Even found it outside on grass/hard surfaces. Glitter due to its flat surface tends to stick to anything/everything allowing easy transport, especially if the air is humid or the surface is moist.

I would be happy for these to be banned…but I expect that social media would have a field day saying the ‘fun police’ have gone too far this time.


The beads are glass, the paint though can be a thermoplastic. The “paint” is heated with a torch to set the beads into it if they have been applied on the surface after paint application but many paints also have the beads incorporated or the beads are sprayed onto the surface immediately after paint application by the line marking machines. The RI (reflective index), clarity, wear resistance, and the sphere shape that can be achieved with glass is the reason it is used. The light from headlights etc is retro-reflected back at the source of the light so beads need to be immersed by about 60% of their diameter to work the best.


We’ve recently updated our article on microplastics: