UK ban on microbeads takes effect

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Microbeads are virtually impossible to retrieve from the waste system and can end up in the sea or rivers

A ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads came into force in the UK 9 Jan.

According to environment minister Thérèse Coffey said manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products will no longer be able to add to products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.

The UK government described the move as a “landmark step” in what it has billed as “one of the world’s toughest bans” on microbeads.

“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,” said Coffey.

The ban follows the successful introduction of 5p charge for plastics bags in October 2015 which led to a 90% cut in use of the bags in England.

Other UK states, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, also introduced charges earlier and have reported significant drops in usage.

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