Glitter destined for ecofriendly makeover

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In the United Kingdom, glitter might go the way of microbeads because of environmental concerns, ushering in new opportunities for biobased replacements like mica and cellulose.

Alice Horton, a research associate at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, tells The Guardian that while there is no evidence that glitter is bad for the environment, “it is likely that studies on glitter would show similar results to those on other microplastics.” Microbeads in personal care products have already been subject to several bans worldwide because of their accumulation in the ocean.

Most glitter is made from aluminimum and polyethylene terephthalate.

Bio-glitter, developed by chemical engineering Stephen Cotton and sold by Lamanna, is a more environmentally friendly option. Cotton says Bio-glitter replaces PET with cellulose, mainly from  eucalyptus, and is just as sparkly as its petroleum-derived counterpart.

Mica is also a possibility in some applications. The naturally occurring mineral provides a pearlescent effect that is ideal for makeup, but is linked to illegal mines in India that employ child labor.