Yves Rocher, the French personal care and cosmetics company, was one of the world’s 30 biggest cosmetics and personal care companies investigated by Greenpeace East Asia (GEA) in a report dated July 2016, which ranked the companies on their commitment to tackling the issue of microbeads in their products.
Microbeads are a type of microplastic that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.
The four main criteria used by GEA were:
1. Commitment & information transparency: Did the company have commitment on microbeads? Was it publicly available and easy to access?
2. Definition: How did the company define microbeads for their commitment?
3. Deadline: When would the company meet their commitment?
4. Application scope: Did the commitment cover all products in all markets?
Each company was scored by GEA based on their responses to a Greenpeace survey, as well as any publicly available information. Each criterion was weighted equally and scored out of 100, to give a final maximum score out of 400.
In a private statement the company had claimed to have stopped using microbeads in April 2016, saying: “In 2014, we decided to stop using plastic micro-fragments (polyethylene microbeads) in all our products.” It said that “100% natural micro-fragments like almond or coconut powder” would be used as alternatives.
Scoring 270 out of 400, ranking 6th in the report, Yves Rocher’s commitment was considered to have fallen short of an acceptable standard because it had many limitations:
- It narrowly applied to just one type of plastic - polyethylene - rather than all plastic types;
- It was silent on the application of the definition to microbeads used for all possible functions;
- It was silent as to whether there was a size limit.
GEA recommended that Yves Rocher should also improve its transparency to customers by publishing its commitment so it was publicly available.