A study on the impact of the microplastic on the environment found that all types of glitter affect life forms at the base of a food web.
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge said biodegradable glitter has the ecological effect on rivers and lakes as the ordinary product. In the previous weeks, almost all English rivers failed quality tests due to stricter chemical standards.
The Anglia Ruskin study came after sixty festivals in England declared that they intend to change over to biodegradable glitter instead of PET glitter by 2021.
Dr Dannielle Green, a senior lecturer in biology at ARU, said: “Glitter is a ready-made microplastic that is commonly found in our homes and, particularly through cosmetics, is washed off in our sinks and into the water system.
“Our study is the first to look at the effects of glitter in a freshwater environment and we found that both conventional and alternative glitters can have a serious ecological impact on aquatic ecosystems within a short period of time.”
Biodegradable glitter negatively impacts essential primary producers that are the base of the food web, she said. A further damaging effect is caused by a “biodegradable” cellulose-based glitter which encourages the growth of an invasive species, the New Zealand mud snail.
Customers are being encouraged to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives to glitter made from a type of plastic called PET as the biological effects of any type of glitter have never been tested before.