British government to confirm ban on ‘microbeads’ water pollutant

The ban would come into effect in 2017

The US is estimated to flush eight trillion of the small beads into its water system each day
The US is estimated to flush eight trillion of the small beads into its water system each day

The Government is set to announce a ban on the water pollutant known as “microbeads” after a long campaign by environmentalists.

Microbeads are solid plastic particles. They are found in some toothpastes, body scrubs and other cosmetics and give products a “speckled” appearance.

The beads serve an aesthetic purpose but some manufacturers also claim they can help with exfoliation or cleaning.

The solid plastic particles however do not biodegrade and so can cause environmental damage when washed down the drain.

The beads are not filtered out by water treatment plants and it has been suggested that they can carry toxins once they themselves become contaminated.

Aquatic creatures have also been known to mistake the particles for food.

In May, Environment Minister George Eustice said the Government supported a ban on the substances, signaling a change in approach from previous a previous commitment to a voluntary phase-out.

He however stopped short of a timetable for the ban. The Independent now however understands that the Government will announce a ban at the weekend.

Such a ban would likely come into force in 2017. A Government consultation on how broad the ban should be is expected next week.

In December, last year former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett told The Independent that the Government should follow the US example and move to legislation.

In August, a cross-party environmental audit committee report demanded cosmetics companies be prohibited from musing microbeads.

Committee chair Mary Creagh MP claimed a plate of six oysters “can contain up to 50 particles of plastic” and called on more research to be done on the impact of microplastic consumption on human health.

“Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain,” Ms Creagh added.

“The microbeads in scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes are an avoidable part of this plastic pollution problem. A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.”

Some manufacturers have voluntarily removed microbeads from their products after consumer campaigners but they remain in others.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in