Plastic microbeads found in some cleaning products will be banned from next year in the bid to cut down on ocean pollution. Andrea Leadsom, Environmental Secretary said the move was needed in order to protect sea life.
These small pieces of plastic can be found in some hand soaps and body washes as well as toothpaste and some cosmetic products and can cause irreversible damage to the environment, with billions of indigestible plastic pieces poisoning sea creatures.
Adding these plastic microbeads is wholly unnecessary when harmless alternatives can be used and the decision to ban microbeads has been warmly welcomed by marine conservationists.
Products that contain the tiny bits of plastic won’t necessarily say “microbeads” in the list of ingredients.
Instead, look for the words polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylmethacrylate – the chemical names for plastics. Nylon may also be listed as well as the abbreviations PET, PTFE and PMMA.
There are several websites listing products that do and do not include plastic such as https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/. It also has a free app where you can check products by scanning the barcode with your smartphone camera.
Following the announcement on the 3rd September 2016 a consultation process will be launched with the intention that they will be banned from products in Britain from later this year with the intention that they will be completely removed by the end of 2017.
To date, 25 toiletries and cosmetic companies in the UK have already taken steps to phase out microbeads and Waitrose have announced that they will stop selling such products by the end of this month.
Evidence will also be gathered on the extent of the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products and we’ll certainly be keeping up to date with this story and looking at alternative solutions and products that can be used.