Purdue Alumni Create “SoyFoliate” Microbead Alternative to Plastic Used in Body Care Products

By Jason Erickson

Over the last several years, much more attention has been given to determining the ill effects that microplastics (microbeads) are having on human health and the environment. Concerns have been raised in everything from toothpaste to beer to the wider ecosystem where it was found to threaten juvenile fish that were becoming addicted to them.

There are many types of microplastics that are believed to be causing wide-scale pollution, but one area that is spurring government action against them are microbeads which occur in an array of personal care products like face scrubs, sunscreens, soaps and general cosmetics.

The United States fortunately has issued a ban against the use of microbeads, and has begun phasing them out of production. The U.K. recently took a similar stance that is being called “the strongest in the world,” highlighting how important the issue has become.

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Microbeads are now thought to be one of the most extensive forms of pollution in our waterways, as seen in the graphic below.

However, microbeads also have been implicated in human health issues as the particles can pass through the gut into surrounding tissues, which can cause allergic and inflammatory reactions. Moreover, it’s has been studied that other environmental chemicals can “hitch a ride” on these tiny particles, making this a potentially pervasive health risk.

It is welcome news, then, that four recent graduates of Purdue University have innovated a new type of microbead made from soy that promises to be the world’s first alternative to plastic microbeads.  They are calling their product SoyFoliate and hope to bring the product to market as quickly as possible. Once established, they want to license the technology to personal care companies. The process is explained below.

“Soy has several biodegradable and hydrophilic properties that make it a great substitute to plastic microbeads. Plastic beads do not absorb water, and soy can over time,” Lewis said. “To mitigate the problem we mixed our beads with small amounts of oil to prevent water from saturating the beads and decreasing their rigid properties.”


“We’ve spent the last year conducting market research, working with industry professionals and experts in the field and getting feedback, which has all been positive,” he said. “We plan to be the first ones to market an alternative product used in a huge variety of personal care products.”



“We’re working on a prototype to test for shelf stability as well as ensuring it’s safe for the environment, features that will make it a consumer preferred option on the market,” Lewis said. “We are excited to update our technology with a new formulation that should offer more stability and biodegradability.”


“Our environmentally friendly soy microbeads are a highly marketable alternative to use in personal care products,” Lewis said. “We look forward to developing a finalized formulation and product and partnering with both producers and companies who will want to use it in their products.”

Source: Purdue University

Given the fact that the health costs of microbeads in our food and water, as well as damage to the ecosystem, is still being accounted for, let’s wish the Purdue alumni good fortune in having their safer creation adopted far and wide.

Jason Erickson writes for NaturalBlaze.com. This article (Purdue Alumni Create “SoyFoliate” Microbead Alternative to Plastic Used in Body Care Products) may be republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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