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UK Government Announces Plan to Ban Microbeads

06 September 2016

UK - The UK government has announced plans to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads in order to protect marine life.

Each year billions of tiny beads end up in the sea from a range of products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels. These beads build up in the marine environment and can be swallowed by sea life, including fish and crustaceans.

A consultation will launch later this year with the intention to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads that harm the marine environment.

At the same time, evidence will be gathered on the extent of the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products, before considering what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, for example microfibers, which enter the marine environment.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: "Most people would be dismayed to know the face scrub or toothpaste they use was causing irreversible damage to the environment, with billions of indigestible plastic pieces poisoning sea creatures.

"Adding plastic to products like face washes and body scrubs is wholly unnecessary when harmless alternatives can be used."

Twenty-five UK cosmetics and toiletries companies, such as Unilever, have already taken steps to voluntarily phase out microbeads from their products. Waitrose has announced they will stop stocking such products by the end of September.

Manufacturers are exploring natural alternatives, including nut shells, salt and sugar, which have the same exfoliating properties but do not pose a threat to the environment.

The government will consult industry, environmental groups and other relevant parties to establish how and when a ban could be introduced, aiming to change legislation next year.

TheFishSite News Desk

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