UK microbead ban comes into effect

One of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads came into force on Tuesday in the UK. The ban targets rinse-off products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.

The UK’s environment minister Thérèse Coffey called microbeads “entirely unnecessary” given all the natural alternatives available.

“I am delighted that from today cosmetics manufacturers will no longer be able to add this harmful plastic to their rinse-off products,” she added.

These tiny pieces of plastic are commonly used in a range of products including face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels. But the microbeads cause irreversible damage to the environment as the build up in marine ecosystems and are ingested by sea life, including fish and crustaceans.

Coffey said that Tuesday’s ban is an important milestone in tackling plastic waste. The government earlier introduced a 5p plastic bag charge, which has successfully taken nine billion bags out of circulation.

Sue Kinsey, Senior Pollution Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, called the UK ban “the strongest and most comprehensive ban to be enacted in the world”.

“We believe that this signals a real commitment on the part of this Government to clean up our seas and beaches and hope this is a first step on this road before we see further actions to combat plastic waste.”

A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will follow later in the year, the government said on Tuesday.


Image credit: MPCA Photos via Flickr

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