Microbeads absorb all the toxins from the water around them and become one giant, tiny toxic nuisance. Then of course they are consumed by marine life and probably end up back on your dining table.
There is also no scientific evidence that these microbeads have any benefits at all. As far as exfoliation goes, products that contain natural ingredients such as almonds, apricots and others are much more effective and don't need to be used more than once a week. Products that contain plastic microbeads on the other hand can be used on a daily basis, which means consumers run out faster and buy the product more regularly.
If you see any of the following ingredients:polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate in the products you use, you're unknowingly contributing to this environmental problem. If you're in Australia, this list contains all the products that you should probably boycott.
The personal care products industry loves this ingredient because it works out great for them. It is cheap, easily available and gives a "silky" texture to their products. Of course it's smooth and silky! It's plastic. Silky texture exfoliants aren't really exfoliating at all, it only makes them less effective so you use them daily and pay more money.
Nevertheless the good news is that leading supermarket chains such as Coles and Woolworths have committed to not using microbeads in their own products from 2017. The United States has already passed legislation to ban use of microbeads in cosmetics, which will come into effect this year.
Environmental Minister Greg Hunt has said that Australia is pushing for a voluntary phase-out by July, 2018.