Climate Action

Plastic microbeads are now banned in the UK

After the UK government pledged to phase-out plastic microbeads in 2016, the long-anticipated ban was put into force this Tuesday marking a landmark step towards ocean protection from plastic pollution.

  • 09 January 2018
  • Websolutions

After the UK government pledged to phase-out plastic microbeads in 2016, the long-anticipated ban was put into force this Tuesday marking a landmark step towards ocean protection from plastic pollution.

As of today, manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products will be prohibited from adding these tiny pieces of plastic to their products, with a ban on the sale to come later in 2018.

Plastic microbeads are usually found in beauty products such as skin cleaning products, facial scrubs, and makeup. In 2016, MPs called for a ban on such microbeads after conservationists warned that after they wash into the oceans, they can be very harmful to sea life and ultimately be consumed by humans.

Thérèse Coffey, UK Environment Minister, said: “The world’s oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life”.

“Now we have reached this important milestone, we will explore how we can build on our world-leading ban and tackle other forms of plastic waste”, she added.

The move was particularly welcomed by the environmental community, although many pointed out the additional work that needs to be accomplished to properly tackle plastic pollution. .  

Dilyana Mihaylova, Manire Plastics Projects Manager at Fauna & Flora International- a wildlife conservation organisation, said: “We are delighted that a robust UK microbeads ban comes into force today. We hope this ban signals the dawn of a new era in the fight for a cleaner, healthier oceans”.

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “The microbead ban is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done. Since we called for a ban, my committee has also recommended the deposit return scheme, a latte levy for plastic-lined coffee cups and reforms to make producers responsible for their packaging. We look forward to hearing the government’s response”.

This week the UK Prime Minister Teresa May will give her first major speech on environmental issues since she took over in July 2016, and she is expected to announce the government’s plans on tackling plastic pollution.

On Sunday she tweeted: “In 2015 we introduced the 5p charge on plastic carrier bags, we now see 9bn fewer bags being used. It’s making a real difference. We want to do the same with single use plastics. Nobody who watched Blue Planet 2 will doubt the need for us to do something - and we will”.