Microbeads to be banned in UK by 2017
UK government announces plans to ban use in cosmetics and cleaning products
Warnings from environmentalists over the dangers of microbeads—the small pieces of plastic commonly found in toothpaste and exfoliating scrubs—are finally being listened to the UK. After a number of cosmetic companies made voluntary commitments to phase out the use of microbeads by 2020, the UK government has announced plans to ban microbeads used in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2017.
With growing concerns over the amount of plastic building up in oceans and entering the food chain, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said in August that the government needed to step in, to protect the environment as soon as is practicable, after it was revealed a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.
With environmental campaigners like Greenpeace pushing hard for a ban on the plastic beads several cosmetics companies including Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble have already made promises to stop using microbeads by the end of next year. Asda, Waitrose, Avon, Tesco, the Bodyshop, L’Oreal and Boots are many other big brands are pledging to stop use in their own brand products—but they may still currently stock other products containing microbeads.
The US recently became the first country to announce it would ban microbead use in cosmetics and the European Commission is also currently developing proposals to ban them in cosmetics across the EU, following calls from a number of member states.
It’s not always easy to identify whether plastic particles are concealed within a product. Microbeads are often disguised behind 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.