Plastic microbeads ban comes into force across UK


Expand Microbeads

A UK-wide ban on manufacturers making products containing microbeads has come into force, in an attempt to cut down on plastics in our oceans.

According to The New York Times, "Microbeads that wash down drains can not be filtered out by many wastewater treatment plants, meaning that tiny plastics slip easily into waterways".

They have been widely criticised by environmentalists and marine conservationists for their harmful effects on animals and the environment.

"They can be ingested directly into the fish and while we're still looking for extra evidence on the impact on human health, the point is that they don't need to be there and that's why we've taken the steps to have this ban".

Dr Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at Imperial College London, said there was evidence of the products preventing oysters reproducing.

In an announcement on Tuesday, the U.K.'s Environment Minister Therese Coffey said that producers of personal care products and cosmetics would not be allowed to add microbeads to "rinse-off" goods such as toothpastes, face scrubs and shower gels.

A YORKSHIRE MP has hailed today as a "landmark for turning back the plastic tide" as a long-awaited ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads comes into force.

Research by the University of Hull last year found that even "pristine" Antarctic waters were polluted with the tiny fragments, with five times more microplastics than would have been expected in waters previously considered relatively pollution-free.
A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will follow later in the year.

"With [BBC One programme] Blue Planet II awakening public horror at what plastic pollution is doing to whales and other wildlife, and the current crisis created by China's refusal to take all but the UK's best quality recycling, it's clear that a wholesale review of United Kingdom waste prevention policies is desperately needed".

The beads are used in hundreds of different cosmetic products such as face washes and shower gels.

Coloured microbeads are used in some products to make them look more appealing.

In December, 193 countries signed a UN resolution to eliminate plastic pollution in the sea, which calls for nations to take action to reduce the use of microbeads.

Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic - typically formed from polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylmethacrylate - that are too small for many sewage systems to filter them out.

Many cosmetics companies have already stopped using microbeads.

Her comments came just days after Prime Minister Theresa May promised more action on tackling marine plastic pollution would be forthcoming from the government.

"It's piecemeal", said Mr Kirby. "This is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done".

Latest News