UK to ban microbeads in cosmetic products

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The UK government is to introduce a ban on the sale and manufacture of microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products, including tooth pastes, later this year.

The environment secretary Michael Gove announced 21 July that the ban on the tiny pieces of plastic, which can be swallowed by marine life, is part of the government’s pledge to reduce plastic waste in oceans.

The ban will be effective 30 June 2018, a day before a similar ban takes effect in the US.

Gove’s comments came on the same day as new figures revealed that more than nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since the government introduced a 5p charge in October 2015. This showed an 83% drop in plastic bag consumption.

Speaking at the WWF UK on 21 July, Gove pledged to deliver a “Green Brexit”, part of which would be to fight the 8 million tonnes of plastic discard into oceans.

In response to the announcement, Greenpeace UK said the decision marked a victory for its “microbeads campaign”.

In a blog written by Louisa Casson, the environmental organisation said the decision was the “the strongest ban on microbeads in the world to date”, as it also covered “biodegradable” plastics.

“It’s crucial that ministers have left the door open to broaden the ban in future to all products that go down the drain – not just cosmetics and personal care products that are classified as 'rinse-off' like body scrubs and shower gels,” Casson added.

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