A ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads in the UK has come into force – a landmark step in the introduction of one of the world’s toughest bans on these harmful pieces of plastic.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has announced that manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products will no longer be able to add tiny pieces of plastic known as ‘microbeads’ to rinse-off products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.
These damaging beads can cause serious harm to marine life, but the UK’s ban – praised by campaigners as one of the toughest in the world – will help to stop billions of microbeads ending up in the ocean every year. Alongside the success of the government’s 5p plastic bag charge – which has taken nine billion bags out of circulation – the ban puts the UK at the forefront of international efforts to crack down on plastic pollution.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “The world’s seas and 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.
Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available, and I am delighted that from today cosmetics manufacturers will no longer be able to add this harmful plastic to their rinse-off products.
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.”
Dilyana Mihaylova, Marine Plastics Projects Manager at Fauna & Flora International, said: “Fauna & Flora International has been working to address the issue of plastic microbead pollution since 2009, and we are delighted that the Government took such a clear stand on this issue and 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 cleaner, healthier oceans, with the UK leading the way and supporting other countries to ensure that plastic will no longer reach the environment.”
Dr Sue Kinsey, Senior Pollution Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We are delighted that such a robust microbead ban has come into force. This is the strongest and most comprehensive ban to be enacted in the world and will help to stem the flow of micro plastics into our oceans.
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.”
Today’s announcement comes ahead of the government’s upcoming 25 Year Environment Plan, which will set out how we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it and create clean, healthy and productive oceans.
A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will follow later in the year.