A consultation to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products was launched recently, aiming to change UK legislation by October 2017 and stop billions of tiny pieces of plastic ending up in our seas each year.
Microbeads (small particles of plastic) are a common ingredient in many cosmetics and personal care products such as face scrubs and toothpastes, as well as washing powders, household cleaners and industrial blasting where abrasive materials including microbeads are propelled under high pressure to remove surface deposits such as paint. They are washed down the drain but are too small to be completely filtered out in sewage treatment systems so a proportion is washed out into the marine environment. A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean. Marine life such as dolphins, whales, seabirds and turtles cannot digest the tiny pieces which can end up in their stomachs so whether you’re shopping for a loved one, or for yourself, check the product is microbead free – many retailers and manufacturers are already taking action to phase out microbeads.
If you live in the UK and wish to put your comments forward, consultation closes on 28 February 2017. The two month consultation outlines proposals looking at what more can be done in the future to prevent other sources of plastic from entering the marine environment.