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Many cosmetics, skin care products and cleaning products contain extremely small plastic spherical materials. These materials are called 'microspheres', which can make the products smooth, but because of their small size, they are difficult to be 'intercepted' by sewage treatment systems and flow into ocean rivers in large quantities, causing pollution. Today, a biodegradable alternative to plastic beads has been developed by scientists at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.

Jeanette Scott, one of the researchers, was quoted on the website of the University of Bass as saying: 'The cosmetics industry often uses polyethylene or polypropylene to make microspheres, which are cheap and easy to manufacture. But these oil-derived polymers take hundreds of years to degrade in the environment. We have found a way to make microspheres from cellulose, which is not only made from renewable materials, but also degradable into harmless sugar.

'We hope that in the future these can be directly used as substitutes for plastic beads.'

Researchers published an article in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, saying that they can get cellulose from many 'wastes' that make microspheres, including those produced by paper mills.

Many people may not know that taking a bath with bath lotion can lead to 100,000 plastic beads entering the ocean, with 8 million tons of plastic beads entering the ocean every year. These non-degradable ingredients may enter the food chain, harm marine life, and eventually enter the human dinner plate.